"Jungle" Jack Hannah returned to Belmont County on May 4 in an appearance as lead speaker of the 2011 Captina Creek Watershed Rally sponsored by the Belmont Soil & Water Conservation District and The Friends of Captina Creek held at Ohio University Eastern.

A graduate of Muskingum University, Hannah told the crowd that it was a dream for him to be there. He began working for a veterinarian in his native Tennessee and began with the zoo there at the age of 17.

"I have loved every day of my job and every day of my life," Hannah said.

He said zoos are big business and their main job is conservation and education.

Hannah introduced and talked about several animals including a cheetah, two-toed sloth, albino python, palm civet, cerval cat, warthog and an albino wallaby named "Betty White" after his friend and fellow animal advocate.

He talked about each animal's role in their ecosystem and how humans are affecting them.

Hannah told the children in the audience, who were invited to sit near the stage, that they could "learn allot from animals." Hannah told them to always respect animals and never pick up a wild animal.

Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede was rally emcee and a collection of over 25 exhibitors featured displays on wildlife conservation and education as well as information on habitat quality in Captina Creek. Those exhibitors included: Barnesville Hutton Memorial Library, Belmont County Tourism Council, Belmont/Monroe County Farm Bureau, Belmont Soil and Water Conservation District, Brooks Bird Club, Captina Conservancy, Jefferson-Belmont Regional Solid Waste Authority, Monday Creek Partnership, National Parks Service, Olgebay Good Zoo, Ohio Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Ohio Department of Natural Resources divisions of forestry and wildlife, Ohio Department of Mineral Resources Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Program, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Divisions of Surface and Ground Water, Ohio Invasive Plant Council, Ohio Ruffed Grouse Society, Ohio University Eastern, The Ohio State University Extension Office, Olney Friends School, Raccoon Creek Partnership, Schrader Education Center, The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, The Wilds, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Ohio Private Lands Division and Yellow Creek Watershed Restoration Coalition.

Hanna, who donated his time to the watershed rally and recognized the significance of Captina Creek and its tributaries as exceptional warmwater habitat. Selected tributaries to Captina Creek, as well as the mainstem of the creek itself, are among the EPA's most highly rated streams in the state for water quality and species biodiversity. The creek is also home to 54 different species of fish and supports a wide range of wildlife from bobcats and otters to smallmouth bass and kingfishers.

After his appearance, Hanna spoke briefly at a dinner held for landowners in the Captina Creek Watershed. He told those present that farmers were the stewards of the land and said in his travels to every continent on the globe he has learned the importance of water and food, having seen places in the world where people do not have the abundance of natural resources that we are blessed with in North America.

"I know what water means to the world and society," Hanna said.

Hanna also encouraged people to visit The Wilds in Cumberland and talked about new attractions being implemented there.

Those attending the dinner then heard about programs available to them from representatives of the Belmont County SWCD, Captina Conservancy, US Fish and Wildlife Service, ODNR Division of Wildlife and Forestry.

Those attending both events were invited to attend the next Captina public watershed meeting at the OYO Market in Powhatan Point in June.