Jack Hanna's Wild Countdown
By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Thematic animal adventures are educational fun for kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Viewers learn about a variety of animals and get a sense of how they live. The show uses maps to illustrate where the animals exist in the wild, and pop-ups offer interesting facts about the creatures' unique habits.
The series inspires respect for wildlife of all kinds and touches on issues like conservation and environmental protection. Hanna's comparisons of the animals encourage kids to take note of physical features and habits that both unify and differentiate the inhabitants of the animal world.
Positive Role Models
Hanna and the animal experts are respectful of the animals' needs and minimize the impact their visits have on the subjects and their natural habitats. They're eager to better understand the wildlife they study so they can help protect their continued survival.
Violence & Scariness
Animals are shown eating their kill, and dismembered carcasses are visible in some scenes. Animal experts sedate wildlife to check their health and apply tracking devices.
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Products & Purchases
Show sponsor Nationwide Insurance gets some recognition from Hanna, as does his home base, the Columbus Zoo.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this series groups many of animal expert Jack Hanna's experiences with wildlife into themed episodes, so viewers can draw comparisons between similar animals like bears and big cats. Its brief format (each animal story gets only a couple of minutes) makes it a better fit for younger kids than for tweens, but there's plenty of interesting content for all ages. Very young kids might need some reassurance during scenes that show animals eating their prey. This entertaining and educational series lends itself to discussions about environmental protection and conservation.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
JACK HANNA'S WILD COUNTDOWN compiles clips from Hanna's lifelong experience with animals of all kinds and presents them in a \"Top 10\" format by theme. Episode topics include big bears, whales and dolphins, and wild cats, and Hanna appears between clips to reflect on his adventures and to offer comparisons between the various animals. The show takes Hanna and other animal experts on location throughout the world to observe wildlife both in captivity and in their natural habitats.
Is It Any Good?
Hanna's ease in front of a camera and his contagious exuberance for learning about wildlife makes him an excellent onscreen teacher. Unfortunately though, if you do the math, you'll find that dividing a 30-minute time block into 10 segments leaves only a few minutes for each animal encounter, and in the case of the longer attention spans of tweens, this abbreviated format may leave them wanting a little more.
The show is better suited for younger kids, who will get just enough information from the quick trips around the world to visit these animals on their home turf. It might be best to tune in with your kids so you can be ready to answer questions about the circle of life when predators are shown feasting on their kill, as well as explain how and why scientists sedate the animals for check-ups or tracking purposes.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the animals they see. What common factors exist among all of the creatures in this show? How are their lifestyles similar? How are they different? Do they ever depend on each other for existence, or do they compete for it?
Kids: What does "extinction" mean? What animals are in danger of extinction? Which ones are already gone? What can we do to help protect them from extinction?
Families can use this show to inspire them to go for a hike or visit a zoo or aquarium to see animals firsthand. How do your observations compare with what you saw in the show? Were the animals' behaviors any different? How did the environment compare? How are zoos working to save wildlife?
- Premiere date: September 9, 2011
- Cast: Jack Hanna
- Network: ABC
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Curiosity
- TV rating: TV-G
- Last updated: December 16, 2022
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