Jack Hanna's Into the Wild

TV review by
Anne Louise Bannon, Common Sense Media
Jack Hanna's Into the Wild TV Poster Image
Animal pro skims over tricky conservation issues.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Animal conservation is a consistent, strong message.

Violence & Scariness
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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while this live-action nature series is mostly tame enough for animal lovers of all ages, it does discuss human predation, which has driven some species to the brink of extinction. Some episodes include evidence of said predation; in one, several stuffed antelope heads (all hunting trophies) were shown on the walls of a lodge.

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What's the story?

Former zoo director/animal conservationist Jack Hanna's latest show offers viewers the chance to see animals in their native habitats. It also explores the efforts being made to preserve endangered species -- a cause dear to Hanna's heart.

Is it any good?

While she show offers interesting information (for example, one episode talks about how to tell the difference between black and white rhinos), the overall feeling is that there's something missing. That Hanna is a strong cheerleader for animal conservation and educating kids about animals is without doubt -- but there's a difference between being a cheerleader and being an apologist.

Hanna routinely dances around more substantive issues. For example, in an episode in which Kenyan school children are brought to a wildlife refuge to learn about the highly endangered bongo, Hanna spends a lot of time talking about how it's important to get the local kids on board with conservation -- but he never mentions why. He talks about poaching, but not why it continues to be such a problem. And he talks about a tribe that has traditionally raised cattle but is now switching to camels and sheep because of global-warming induced drought -- but doesn't mention that these people are subsistence farmers. And there's really no reason -- given the show's target school-age audience -- not to talk about social issues like poverty and their impact on animal conservation

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how shows like this can interest kids in wildlife conservation. Do you think viewers always get the whole picture? Sometimes Hanna avoids talking about some of the more controversial or political aspects of animal conservation -- is that OK? What do you think the show's goal is?

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