It was a wild scene at London Jewelers in the Americana Manhasset shopping center on Tuesday night as celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna (aka “Jungle Jack,”) turned up for a special appearance along with some of his friends…as in an armadillo, penguin, snow leopard, and fennec fox.
The crowd of a couple of hundred, grownups and kids, was awestruck by the beauty and proximity of the exotic animals and by Hanna, who is sort of a craggy Indiana Jones type dressed in a khaki safari outfit and his signature leather brimmed hat (one of three he has, he told us, this one his fave). “He’s so hot,” whispered one woman to a friend.
Though not the typical celebrity appearance at the luxurious jewelry hub, (jeez, last celeb we met there was Eva Longoria) London owner Candi Udell, who, appropriately wore a cheetah print top, is a passionate animal advocate. “It's important to teach compassion for these animals and about conservation and preservation so these animals will be here for our children and grandchildren,” she said.
Her charity is the “Rescue Paw Foundation,” but the night was mostly geared to raising funds for Hanna’s cause, “The International Center for the Preservation of Wild Animals.” In fact, several animals at the event were endangered species including the feisty snow leopard. (For the record, Hanna, who had just come off taping the David Letterman show, told the crowd, that after years of handling them, he was allergic to cats.) Udell said of the event, “There’s definitely a tie-in here. The animals are very rare and beautiful, and so are many of the jewels inside.”
Hanna agreed noting that the Udells were truly dedicated to the cause, but added, “I bet we’re going to run out of animals before we run out of diamonds.”