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September 17, 2007

Shock: Slapdash Zookeeper Jack Hannah Involved In Emergency At Airport Involving Flamingo And Turnstile

I like Jack Hannah. He seems like a nice guy. I want to make it clear that I wish him well because I'm about to say something mean: Jack Hannah may be the most incompetent person in the history of history.

Letterman loves Jack Hannah, because he's such amazing entertainment... by accident. He seems to have absolutely no idea what the hell he's doing attempting to handle animals. He is perplexed by the most basic questions, like "Will that tiger you just brought out maybe attempt to eat that giant rabbit you also have bouncing around on my desk?" I'm not sure he could define "herbivore" if you gave him three guesses.

He's the animal-expert equivalent to (as some say) NASCAR: A lot of people are just watching for the inevitable disaster.

So this comes as little surprise. He's like Steve Irwin, except without all the abundance of caution:

Animal expert Jack Hanna and an 11-month-old flamingo became trapped while trying to squeeze through an airport security turnstile. It took firefighters to finally get the flamingo out.

Hanna, the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and a frequent guest on nationally televised talk shows, was returning from a zoo fundraiser with a mongoose, a small leopard and the flamingo. Three other people were with them.

The entourage arrived at the Ohio State University Airport just after midnight Sunday to find the terminal closed. The only way to leave the tarmac was through a 10-foot-tall metal turnstile with several horizontal bars -- not the easiest exit to squeeze through when you're traveling with boxed-up animals, Hanna said.

"I never thought about the crate being square and the turnstile being round," he said.

Hanna, 60, pushed the flamingo's 2-foot-by-3-foot compartment into the turnstile, then continued pushing while straddling the crate.

"I was stuck like a worm. My eyes were as big as grapefruits," he said. "I can't describe the feeling in my stomach. I can't move up or down. The bars are on your face."

Hanna said he eventually squirmed free, leaving the flamingo still wedged inside and everyone else trapped on the tarmac. He then walked to a nearby fire station for help. It took three firefighters to hoist the flamingo's crate up and out of the turnstile, he said.

Columbus fire department logs show the firefighters arrived at the airport at 12:30 a.m. for a "flamingo rescue," spokeswoman Kelly McGuire said.

I couldn't find a very good Letterman appearance, but here's some of his typical insouciance for basic safety on display, here involving a poisonous toad and a frightened nine year old boy.

I swear, I saw one panel where he had like ten or twelve animals out at the same time of all different species, some obviously looking to eat other ones, and it just never seemed to occur to him at all to put the cute little marmosets and possums away before bringing out the cougars and cobras. I guess he subscribes to a "Thunderdome" philosophy of zookeeping.


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posted by Ace at 07:37 PM

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