Jack Hanna

updated 05/06/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/06/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

SURE, IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE. AND IF YOU WERE to get lost in it, you'd want Jack Hanna as your guide. When Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown invited the Columbus, Ohio, zookeeper to her office last December, "my staff went berserk," she says. "He's devastatingly sexy." Hanna's friend, actress Bo Derek, agrees. "He was born lucky," she says. "Physically he's a 10." All that (we've got to say it) animal magnetism also dumbfounded sponsors of his syndicated show Animal Adventures. Expecting curious children, they got really interested female viewers instead—49 percent of the audience turned out to be women between ages 18 and 64. Hanna, a 49-year-old family man with a wife of 27 years and three grown daughters, didn't even notice the fuss "until people started taking my picture at the zoo," he says. Now a sign is posted outside his office window. "Homo Sapiens," it reads. "Eats: Food. On Exhibit: 8 to 5." While zoogoers can't get enough of his suntanned face, Hanna's friend and fellow animal-lover Betty White is wild about his "firm, strong hands." She adds, "I've seen the way he handles animals. He's the only one I know who can put a beetle on your shoulder, and you'll hold still for it."

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