Columbus Zoo & Aquarium Director Emeritus Jack Hanna resigned his position and formally severed other contractual ties to the organization on Monday, more than six months after allegations of romantic relationships between humans and animals at the zoo first came to light. In early January, rumors of sexual impropriety at the zoo started reaching the Columbus ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), which launched a formal investigation shortly thereafter.
Hanna’s involvement began in February, when he was first asked by ASPCA investigators whether he was aware of any inappropriate activities being undertaken by zoo staff. Although Hanna answered no at that time, emails and other documents released by the zoo later revealed that he was indeed aware of the activities and had taken steps to cover them up.
One email, addressed to “J.J.” (Jungle Jack) in November of 2010, read as follows: “Terrelle Briar (zookeeper) let some guys in last night. Gave access to Kiki’s cage (female koala bear). Heard a lot of gasping and grunting. One man mentioned ‘banging hairy Australian ass.’ Concerned they were having sex with her. Should I inform Rick (Zoo Manager)?”
Hanna responded by saying he would look into the matter personally, but never did. Instead, he reached out to Briar’s hometown mentor, Ned Karniak, a man he first met in 2008 when he was recruiting the nation’s top zookeeping prospect to bring his talents to Columbus.
In a text message sent to Karniak, Hanna said, “Terrelle may be caught up in something here in Columbus. May involve animal asses and penises. Please call me ASAP.”
Since March, when evidence of the dishonesty was made public, Hanna has faced an increasing amount of criticism and numerous calls to step down.
Columbus Zoo spokesman Joel Anderson announced the resignation at a press conference, reading a statement Hanna had personally prepared.
“I have dedicated my life to the success of the Columbus Zoo and to the preservation of wildlife everywhere,” the statement said. “In this matter, however, I’ve acted inappropriately. In the best interests of the zoo and the community at large, I feel it’s best to separate from the organization.”
Hanna apologized for letting everyone down, and expressed sorrow for the many animals brutally penetrated and defiled.
“These innocent creatures rely on us for their survival and we must all hold ourselves to certain ethical and moral standards,” the statement read. “Taking advantage of their alluring, well-groomed, sometimes scented, tasty, potentially juicy, often pulsating, always profitable orifices for the purpose of sexual gratification is unacceptable.”
According to information provided by investigators, it is believed that multiple zookeepers currently employed by the zoo have provided access to the animals in return for tattoos and other benefits provided by a local tattoo-shop owner.
“Basically, zookeepers were pimping out animal ass and penis in return for ink, cash, cars, and other perks,” said ASPCA Detective Roy Smith. “The tattoo shop, Horse Tats, and it’s owner, Rocco Mandolin, have been linked to zoophilia in the past. They’re known for having brutal, barbarous, torturous sex with the strangest beasts they can find, and their involvement in this case is no surprise.”
Zoophilia, also known as zoosexuality or bestiality, is the practice of sexual intercourse between humans and non-human animals.
“We have an exhaustive knowledge of the practice here at the ASPCA as many of our members are reformed zoophiles themselves,” Smith said. “At first, they say it’s great to own or take care of a horse just to have sex with it. However, as the condition matures, practitioners spend a great deal of time searching for and breaking into different menageries and seeking the next big thrill. The whole process can become quite burdensome over the course of several years. Many of them eventually decide it’s better to have boring human on human sex rather than jump through hoops and cages just for a shot at something furry and endangered.”
Thus far, five employees have been named in the investigation, including standout Terrelle Briar and fellow zookeepers Devon Posney, Shroom Farin, Adam Michaels, and Johnathan Taylor Thomas. The zoo’s board of directors has suspended the zookeepers for five months, restricted visitor access to the petting zoo, and discontinued pony rides for patrons while the ASPCA continues its investigation and decides whether to bring criminal charges.
Longtime Columbus Zoo supporter Frank Scott said Jack Hanna shouldn’t have lied, but that his heart was in the right place.
“His first instinct was to protect his zookeepers and the reputation of the Columbus Zoo,” Scott said. “Jack isn’t involved too much in the day to day operations, but he does play a key role in attracting and training top talent. He is responsible for the zoo’s success and the last thing he wants is to see everything go up in flames because of a few abnormal sexual rendezvous.”
Joining the Columbus Zoo, zookeepers are instantly part of one of the most prestigious and well-known zoo programs in existence, a change in circumstances that Scott said catches many youths off guard.
“Being a zookeeper in Columbus, Ohio, you have the world at your feet,” Scott said. “You’re famous, important, powerful, etc., but you’re not seeing the money you expect to come along with those things. In that situation, ethical situations are bound to arise. Access to that amount of animal ass…there’s going to be a lot of pressure put on you to bend the rules.”
Those close to the investigation do not believe any Columbus Zoo employees personally engaged in sex with any of the animals. Their role was limited to providing outsiders with safe access .
“Our understanding is that the zookeepers allowed people into the zoo after business hours for the purpose of copulation,” said Detective Smith. “There is evidence that, at times, the zookeepers would secure the larger, more dangerous animals, such as rhinoceroses and bison.”
Securing the animals involved chaining the beasts in positions that left them unable to injure the humans mounting them from behind, backing onto their penises, or sitting on their knees and sucking them off.
“We have no information that indicates zookeepers were directly involved in any sexual act,” Smith added. “They weren’t helping to get the animals aroused, applying lubrication, helping with insertion, anything of that nature.”
Asked if the sexual activity has had a negative impact on the animals, zoo spokesman Anderson said no, that the animals were boring and laid around all day whether they had recently been raped or not.
The ASPCA investigation is expected to wrap up toward the end of August, at which point any fines or penalties will be levied against guilty parties.