KNOXVILLE, Tenn(WVLT)--He's been described as zany, even down home.
He told Local 8 News Anchor Alan Williams who traveled to Columbus, Ohio recently, "Knoxville is my home and I still tell people all over the world, when I do interviews, Knoxville is my home".
"On the farm at Kingston Pike as a little boy, I had animals, then I went to work for the Knoxville Animal
Clinic which used to be in Bearden, went there when I was 11 years old. people thought I would last a day, I lasted six years".
From the clinic he got a job at the Knoxville Zoo.
"I saw the zoo and said someday I'm going to be a zoo keeper so at 15, I had that dream and I never wavered from my dream."
But there have been setbacks along the way, one, when he owned a makeshift zoo called Pet Kingdom in Knoxville.
"When you have what happened to me, you know you live with that the rest of your life, I don't care who you are."
In his book he describes a neighbor saying, "Jack you've got to come quickly, a little boy has lost his arm to your lion."
I remember a doctor came, Doctor Chesney came up and talked to me, I went up to my room for 2 days and they took all my animals away."
While Jack Hanna's life continues to revolve around animals, he admits he's become a guardian of sorts when it comes to people and the earth's resources.
We joined him at the Columbus Zoo at a reception and banquet for two of his passions, saving Rawandan gorillas and working with a
children's orphanage for survivors of a 1994 genocide.
"We saw 10's of thousands of children with no arms, no homes, homeless, parents gone, nothing just thousands of them.
"So we decided to take this lady and started an orphanage."
As for Jack's home, he literally lives on the grounds of the Columbus Zoo as Director Emeritus.
So how about returning to his home town? HOW ABOUT RETURNING TO HIS HOME TOWN?..
"Bill Sansom, Phillip Fulmer, the Christenberry's, all the people that are my buddies for so many years, if I didn't have a place in Montana, I'd have a place in the Smokies.