Jack Hanna will visit Blank Park Zoo on September 29

For a photo of Jack Hanna or the Australian Adventure, visit blankparkzoo.com/press

Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo announced today several additional events this fall including a visit from America’s favorite zookeeper, Jack Hanna on the evening of September 29.

“This is Jungle Jack’s first trip to Blank Park Zoo,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO. “Jack will bring some of his exotic animal friends and tell stories of his many adventures.”

Vukovich noted that Hanna’s appearance will coincide with the beginning of construction on a $1.3 million renovation of the Zoo’s Australian Adventure. The renovation will include new Australian theming and interactives, several new animal species, a new holding area for the Australian animals and a new train barn.

“Guests will be immersed into the wonders of Australia. You can take a picture next to a didgeridoo, learn how a boomerang works and see how Australia became an island, and Jack Hanna’s visit will be a great way to kick it off,” said Vukovich.

The new Australian Adventure will open in summer 2011.

Jack Hanna’s visit is sponsored by Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide, is based in Columbus, Ohio, and is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by A.M. Best. Nationwide companies based in Des Moines are Allied Insurance, Nationwide Agribusiness and Nationwide Advantage Mortgage.

About Jack Hanna:
Jack Hanna is the Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and is the host of the television show Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild. He is probably best known for his many television appearances on Good Morning America, The Late Show with David Letterman, Larry King Live and others. He is the author of several books. Learn more about Jack Hanna at jackhanna.com.

Here’s a list of happenings at the Blank Park Zoo from now until winter:

Jack Hanna
- On the evening of Wednesday, September 29, 2010, Jack Hanna will come to Blank Park Zoo. Recognized around the country as America's favorite zookeeper, Jack Hanna's live show features his favorite exotic animal friends, as well as fascinating and funny stories from his many adventures around the world. The entire family will be thoroughly entertained and ultimately inspired! Sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, this exciting and unique opportunity will include a chance to get your photo taken with Jack Hanna, visit the exotic animals found at Blank Park Zoo and, of course, take a trip with Jack as he shares his animal friends and many wild adventures.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010, 5:30pm

Children 12 and under
$5 Members
$10 Non-members
$10 Members
$20 Non-members

Australia Adventure expansion and remodel
– A $1.3 million remodel of the Australian exhibit will begin in September. When completed in summer 2011, the exhibit will feature several new animal species, new Australian theming where guests will learn how a boomerang works, take a picture next to a didgeridoo and more. A new, modern animal holding area will be constructed along with a train barn.

Feed an Ostrich - Nine amazing birds humorously chow down at 11am every Saturday & Sunday through September. FYI … Did you know that an ostrich does not like to stick its head into a pile of sand to hide?

Safari Splash - When the heat turns up in August, kids visiting the Blank Park Zoo will be cooling down. During the first week of August, children will enjoy a wet and wild time as they ride the inflatable slip-n-slide. In addition, guests will enjoy cool treats and watch how some of the Blank Park Zoo animals stay cool during the ‘dog days’ of summer. (August 2-6).

The Birdman
- “Birds Down Under” See the Birdman’s Australian birds including cockatoos and sarus cranes perform in this entertaining and educational show. (now through August 15.)

Parakeet Feeding Experience
– Enter the Zoo’s new aviary and meet over 250 parakeets. They will flock to your hand and eat a special meal right from a stick. Since parakeets hail from Australia, we’re calling it Budgie Bog In (Bog In means eat enthusiastically or chow down). This experience is available at many of the most popular zoos across the United States and has been delighting people of all ages since opening in June. (open daily through September)

New Fish
- The Blank Park Zoo will be home to nearly 100 new fish this fall. They will be added gradually throughout the next couple of months. Included are Harlequin Tusk Wrasse, Rafflesi Butterfly, Sea Urchins, Green Dragon Pipefish, Blue Stripe Pipefish and several trigger and tang varieties.

Uptown Hoedown - Leave your black ties and ball gowns at the cleaners, grab your dancing boots and join us Saturday, August 28 for a wild and exotic country style gala to benefit the Blank Park Zoo. Guests will explore the Zoo, enjoy a cocktail hour, dinner and great entertainment throughout the evening. Funds from the Uptown Hoedown support the educational programs at the Blank Park Zoo as well as the training, veterinary care and general operations related to managing the animal collection.

Wildlife Conservation Series
- An Evening for African Predators
African Predator Conservation Research Organization (APCRO)
Blank Park Zoo is pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Briggs, co-founder and CEO of the African Predator Conservation Research Organization. APCRO is dedicated to studying the viability and health of African predators in the short term as well as evaluating their potential for long-term survival. They are working to protect a variety of African predators including spotted hyenas, African wild dogs, jackals, African lions, African leopards and cheetah. These great cats and rare canines play a key role in African ecosystems. Join us to learn about APCRO's pioneering work to save them.

September 11, 2010
5:30 PM - Social Hour and Discovery Center viewing
6:30 PM - Dinner
Presentation and Auction following dinner
$30 per person or $180 for a table of eight
$20 per student (valid student ID required)
All proceeds raised will benefit the African Predator Conservation Research Organization.

Family Friday Nights - Blank Park Zoo is open EVERY Friday evening this summer through August! Each Family Friday Night features family friendly music, special craft activities, keeper chats, and, of course, all of the animals of the Blank Park Zoo. This event is free with regular Zoo admission and free for Zoo members. (Now through August).

Night Eyes - everyone’s favorite trick or treat event returns this October for its twentieth straight year of “merry not scary” fun. Over 600,000 treats will be passed out at the #1 family Halloween event.

Group Safari Packages - The Blank Park Zoo is perfect for family reunions, company picnics and meetings, group outings and more. Enjoy all the animals and activities the Zoo has to offer at a reduced cost. Ask about our special group tours and meal packages. 

Holiday Parties - The Blank Park Zoo Discovery Center is great place to hold a holiday party overlooking the tropical aviary exhibit. The time to book your party is now.

Birthday Parties - The best place to take the kids is now the wildest place for a Birthday party. Check out blankparkzoo.com for details.