Monday, March 8, 2010

Nationwide is on wildlife’s side

In 1978 the Columbus Zoo needed a new director. I saw the job listing and knew that Columbus had a good children’s hospital (important for my daughter Julie), so I submitted my resume. I can’t imagine what the search committee thought when I walked into the room - shaggy hair, big thick glasses, three young daughters, and a nice Tennessee twang. Most people would have thought “oh, brother” and asked to see the next candidate. But Blaine Sickles, a member of the Columbus Zoo Board of Trustees and Nationwide Insurance executive, had a good feeling about me.

The Zoo Board had cold feet after my interview, but Blaine, normally a teddy bear of a guy, really let the board have it! He told the Board that I had met all the agreed upon criteria for the position and the search committee had worked very hard on finding a new director. And, he added, anyone who voted against me would be serving on the new search committee! Of course, I didn’t know this at the time, but fortunately for me, Blaine’s argument won them over and I started what would become a 30+ year career with the Columbus Zoo.

So I’m here today because one man advocated on my behalf. Little did I know how my life would change over the next thirty years and how important Nationwide Insurance would be to the Zoo’s history and future expansion. Nationwide Insurance supported the first exhibit I worked on as director – the American Bald Eagle habitat. They have supported nearly every major renovation or expansion since then, and most recently helped bring back the Polar Bears. I can’t wait until our new Polar Frontier region opens later this spring!

Today, I’m proud to announce a new partnership with the organization partly responsible for bringing me to Columbus, Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide Insurance, my longtime partner in wildlife conservation, will be co-sponsoring Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild with the Columbus Zoo, as well as my national speaking tour.

I’ve spent my whole career as an advocate for animals and conservation. My partnership with Nationwide Insurance is a natural fit because they are advocates too – for their customers, their hometown community, and their hometown zoo. With Nationwide’s help and support, we will be able to reach more people than ever before with the important conservation message, and hopefully inspire millions to learn about and take action to protect animals and our environment.

Thank you, Nationwide!


  1. Hi Jack,

    I really enjoy reading your blog. You are so inspirational because of the many things you have done for animals. I'm a huge fan. I was actually able to meet you when you spoke at our local zoo here in Alexandria, Louisiana in 2006. I know it's been a while for you and you might not remember but for me it was a moment in my life I will never forget. I write a blog on called Wild Focus and it focuses on fascinating facts about wildlife and nature. I want to invite you to read it. I also have pictures of you and I on my wild focus page. I would really appreciate any feedback. Thank you so much.

    Breland Kent

    You can read my blog at this link.

  2. Dear Jack,
    Do snakes sneeze?

  3. We mentioned you in our blog today. We love your website and blog!