Columbus, We've Experienced a lot Together

  • 1956,12 1956,12 Colo arrives at the Columbus Zoo, and a star is born. Publications from Life to LeMonde covered her birth. Lines formed for weeks. She was the first gorilla born in human care, and Colo is still drawing fans from all over the world.  Image Attributions Here
  • 1978,9 1978,9 Change in the air: Jack Hanna named as director of the Columbus Zoo. With the hiring of Jack Hanna, the Columbus Zoo introduces a leader willing to go far beyond the extra mile to transform the challenge he inherited, including picking up trash after hours.  Image
  • 1983,10 1983,10 National audience meets Hanna for the first time on Good Morning America. Jack Hanna’s first appearance on network television showed his natural talent for combining humor, education and entertainment to place the Columbus Zoo and animal awareness in the national consciousness—and keep it there. None
  • 1985,6 1985,6 Franklin County voters approve a .25 mil levy for the Zoo. Public attractions with big ambitions sometime require large public support to transform into reality, and Franklin County voters voted with their pocketbooks to support expansion plans.  Image
  • 1927,1 1927,1 The Beginning

    The Columbus Zoo opened with a small collection of animals that were donated by the Wolfe Family (owners of the Columbus Dispatch newspaper).

  • 1979,2 1980,3 Turning The Zoo Around

    When Jack arrived in Central Ohio, the Zoo’s lowland gorillas had never been outdoors. In the late 70’s this was the normal practice, but the Zoo staff knew these animals deserved much better. In 1979 the gracious support of John H. McConnell and Worthington Industries transformed the gorillas’ habitat and it represented a turning point for the Zoo – the community and other zoos took notice!

  • 1985,1 1985,1 Meeting David Letterman

    Jack appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman for the first time. Dave and Jack “hit it off” – Jack is one of the Late Show’s longest running guests!

  • 1988,10 1989,1 Start of the Wildlights Tradition

    Jack started the beloved Central Ohio holiday tradition, Wildlights at the Zoo! In its first year Wildlights featured 120,000 glowing lights…and today there are more than 3,000,000 shimmering LED lights and nearly 350,000 guests enjoying the celebration of the holiday season annually.

  • 1991,1 1991,1 Partners in Conservation

    A group of volunteers and zookeepers founded Partners In Conservation (PIC), a grassroots humanitarian and wildlife conservation organization. Seven years prior, Jack saw mountain gorillas for the first time in Rwanda and to this day, he makes it a priority to visit them regularly. Through PIC, the Zoo and Jack have witnessed firsthand that in order to really save animals, you have to educate and help the people who live near their habitat.

  • 1992,3 1992,7 Saving the Pandas

    One of Jack’s proudest moments was bringing the endangered giant pandas to the Columbus Zoo. Welcoming the pandas to the Zoo was also the beginning of our international conservation work – today the Zoo supports 70 wildlife conservation projects in over 30 countries!

  • 1999,5 1999,7 Saving the Manatees

    Working with the US Fish & Wildlife’s Manatee Rehabilitation and Recovery Program, the Columbus Zoo became a temporary home for the manatees while they recover from cold

    stress and boat strikes. After they have been nursed back to health, the manatees return to Florida to be released back into their native waters.

  • 2008,6 2008,9 Zoombezi Bay Opens

    On Zoombezi Bay’s opening day, Good Morning America’s Sam Champion ventured to Central Ohio for a live broadcast with Jack and the animals. The water looked so relaxing that the penguins unexpectedly jumped in and took a little swim! Zoombezi Bay is the only waterpark in the country attached to a Zoo and every penny generated from the waterpark is put back into the Zoo’s mission!