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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jack Hanna at Ohio State's Equine Lameness Lab: Running Amok Through Gait Analysis

Watch a segment of Jack Hanna's "Into the Wild" television show filmed in a lameness lab

Television wildlife promoter Jack Hanna visited The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center's Galbreath Equine Center in Columbus, Ohio in February; he was filming a segment for his television show "Into the Wild."

Hanna and crew were hosted by our friend Alicia Bertone, DVM, PhD, DACVS professor of Equine Orthopedic Surgery and The Trueman Chair in Equine Clinical Medicine and Surgery at Ohio State.

Dr. Bertone tried to explain different diagnostic methods for osteoarthritis in horses as well as how a horse progresses through her new clinical trial for horses with osteoarthritis--when Jack wasn't mugging for the camera. It's nothing short of fun to watch Jack stumble through the familiar treadmills and force plates and surgery room hoists, all the while taking Dr Bertone not very seriously. Luckily, we know she has a great sense of humor and was well-chosen to host someone like Jack.

If you live in the United States and watch television, you know Jack Hanna. But since so many Hoof Blog readers are not US residents, it might be helpful to explain who this character is. Some might say that he is best known for taking his role as director of the down-at-the-heels and unknown Columbus Zoo back in the 1980s and turning "Jack Hanna"--and that zoo--into household names through his back-to-back appearances on every news and talk show on television. He actually does have a show of his own, however.

But most of us see him over breakfast on "Good Morning America" or late at night on David Letterman's show. He brings the creepiest or cutest animals he can find and turns them loose on Dave's desk.

Jack Hanna still lives in Ohio; that location meant that he became the de facto spokesman to the press during the terrible tragedy of a home zoo gone mad when wild animals escaped from a Zanesville, Ohio farm.

One reason he's so effective on-camera is because he plays dumb. Sure, it's dumb like a fox, but it works to get--and keep--the audience on his side. He's been able to become the most visible icon of American wildlife not in spite of but perhaps because of his lack of a DVM or a PhD. With the possible exception of the Zanesville aftermath, Jack Hanna doesn't usually lecture or talk down to his audiences. He falls over his own words often, makes more than his share of off-the-wall comments, and acts downright goofy sometimes, especially when David Letterman is around.

The AVMA and AAZPA may or may not approve of what Jack Hanna says or does, but they can't argue that he fuels the public's interest in wild animals, and has probably done more than any individual to increase the sales of family tickets to zoos and nature parks around the country.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

The horse world could use someone to do for us what Jack has done for zoos. Maybe this little video is a start. 

Click on the ad to learn more about this beautiful guide to the equine foot anatomy

 © Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to  

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1 comment:

Riley said...

This was really interesting. Jack Hanna is still as I recall him from my days working with Hill's and Petco.