The Story

My grandpa, JJ, or “Jungle Jack” Hanna has traveled the world, impacted each of the numerous people he met, and has made a difference in the animal kingdom over his lifetime. He has a lot to be proud of, and we are definitely all proud of him. We could talk for days (or more) about all he has accomplished and what he has done, I guess we could watch his show or youtube clips to see a lot of that too, but I am nominating him for another reason. The past couple months I was living with JJ and my grandma, and I learned so much just by watching close up how he lives. He truly showed me how to live more like Christ. Three things that especially stuck out to me were his humility, compassion, and love. JJ is one of the most humble people I have ever met.  He has lived a life where it’s not easy to remain humble, but he has. He carries himself in a gentle and humble way like Christ.  He doesn’t take himself too seriously and doesn’t feel that he’s entitled to anything either.  He is just thankful to God for what he has, and he freely suggests when he may be wrong. JJ is also compassionate. He genuinely cares and has a heart for both people and animals, their welfare, and those that are hurting. It was a blessing to watch him care for sick family members and even his own dog. Finally JJ is loving. He has such a big heart, is accepting to everyone, and lays himself down for those around him. It has been such a blessing watching JJ these past couple months, and I will be taking what I learned from him with me for the rest of my life. I always loved seeing him pray for his food at the dinner table before the rest of us made it over. JJ is humble, compassionate, and loving and that is why I am nominating him for this award. I am thankful to have learned how to live like that from my grandpa.

Love, Blake


I think that anyone who would watch JJ’s shows or speeches definitely knew two things about him: he loves COOKIES and he’s genuinely funny. He’s the type of funny that makes you laugh, but my grandma say “Jack stop it.” Two of my favorite stories revolve around my favorite place, their Montana home.

When we were younger we loved to eat sugar but my grandma would always say “you are what you eat,” meaning we shouldn’t be eating junk food. Well JJ had a different take on this and LOVED to sneak us candy, cookies, ice cream and anything else he could get his hands on. Our favorite thing to do in Montana in the morning was to sneak onto the mule (a golf cart not an animal for those wondering) and go to Bob’s gas station to get “computer paper.” Computer paper is what my grandpa named candy, how he came up with that we have no idea. And although we all pretended like our mom and grandma didn’t know what computer paper was they most definitely did. However, every morning in Montana we would sneak off to go buy our “computer paper” at the gas station with JJ. I always remember jumping out of bed being SO excited to go get our treat for the day and joke about hiding it from the other adults while JJ helped us sneak it into the house. Disclaimer: they didn’t even have a computer nor a printer…

My second favorite story about JJ is about how much he loves my grandmas cookies that I have now gotten the honor to carry on making. One time while in Montana my grandma tried to make the cookies “healthier” and use less sugar. Well you can’t fool JJ, he took one bite of the cookies and called them horse biscuits. I love that story because it embodies how much he loves his cookies and how you can’t fool him into changing the recipe. He loves them so much that people have now brought him cookies to speeches to see if theirs can beat the infamous Hanna’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. I love being able to make my grandma’s cookies for him and watch how excited he gets when he sees them in the oven! You always know how loved you are by JJ he is always the first to thank you for doing something so you know how much he appreciates you. 

I love you JJ!



There are many things that I love and cherish about JJ. Here are a few of them: he is so fun and goofy to be around aka the life of the party. He is so kind to everyone he meets. He is the same exact person on and off the camera. He is so genuine and lastly I love his love for animals and wildlife. JJ is also so brave and not scared to try new things or step out of his comfort zone. I have learned a lot from him and I am so thankful to continue to learn from him.

One story that I want to share, will take us all the way to Glacier National Park. Every summer we are blessed to be able to go join JJ out in Montana! It is always so much fun and he has so many exciting things planned for us to do; one of those activities being hiking! We were on a hike at glacier and I was was about 5 years old. I was climbing up the mountain with the rest of the family. Only being 5 years old I had to pee really really bad. So, my dad took me off the path behind some trees to go. That being said, there were some mountain goats in the distance, but we didn’t think anything of it. I put my pants and underwear aside and all of the sudden as I started to go a mountain goat came out of nowhere and stole my underwear. My dad and I ran back to the trail in a panic and before we know it JJ is running towards the mountain goat. He didn’t even think twice. He ran off the trail and just like that I had my underwear back. JJ had saved the day!!! He is not only amazing with animals, but he is also amazing with people and I am so proud to call him my grandpa. I love you so so much JJ and thank you for all that you have done for me and our family and so many others. You are a world changer!!!




My favorite memory is when we were little kids and JJ would take us to the gas station and buy us candy! My grandma would get really mad at him so we made up fake words for candy and used to say we needed to go to the store for “computer paper.”

Love you,



At the worst part of my life Jack Hanna offered me loyalty, forgiveness and love that I did not deserve. The love he has given me was an amazing example of Gods perfect love for His children. His generosity and consistency through the last 30 years of my life is unparalleled. He taught me more about being a man than anyone else in my life. Thank you Jack for all you have done for me and so many.

I love you dearly,



Jack was nominated by Blake Southerland.  Click below to read his story.

Blake Southerland’s story 



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Jim Driller says:

I’m honored to know Jungle Jack Hanna and his fabulous family!!! I used to look forward to watching Jungle Jack on Late Night with David Letterman years before I had the privilege to meet him. I would laugh so much at JJ and Dave, I always wondered how they seemed to have such a great chemistry between them until I met him in person. He is the same funny person in real life!

I have many great stories and memories over the years with JJ and his family. One of the most consistent things that sticks out to me is how humble THEY are for the achievements he’s accomplished over a lifetime. I not sure if JJ ever met a stranger, his love and generosity for people and animals are second to none. Thank you for your great example of showing the respect to anyone who is in front you (big or small) making them feel important and noticed!

I will never forget a conversation we were having and JJ said, “You can’t rescue something, YOU DONT LOVE!!” I’m not sure how profound he thought it was, but it has changed my life! It reminds me of how much God loves us and His creation.

Thank you for your kindness and friendship,