In his memoir, Jungle Jack: My Wild Life, Jack Hanna describes meeting Suzi, “the girl of my life.” Of course, he credits his pet donkey for his romance. Suzi Egli, who captained their college’s cheerleading squad a the time, was (if you ask Jack) “the cutest girl in French.” And, according to Jack, “I kept her going with my stories about my donkey, and we became fast friends.” Animals, you won’t be shocked to know, soon became a central theme, nay — a controlling factor — in their existence. Take the time when they adopted ducks meant for slaughter and, after graduating from college (they married during their senior year), left them in the college lake for posterity. Or like when, after starting at-home zoo (including, but not limited to: lions, llamas, deer, elk, a bear, chimpanzees, a spider monkey, parrots, goats, a horse, dogs, and a cat), Jack tried to convince Suzi to give a baby chimpanzee breast milk. (That was hard no.) It’s always been about animals for the two of them.
It’s little surprise, then, that the accomplishment that Suzi’s most proud of has to do with animals, too. She once told Columbus Monthly that one of “the biggest moments in our life” was helping to transition gorillas out of their cages in the Colombus Zoo. “And for those gorillas to come out and walk on grass for the first time — I even get chills now, when I think about it,” Suzi remembered.