We Head to Columbus With Nat Geo WILD to Learn the 'Secrets of the Zoo'! (PHOTOS)

Lori Acken

Ohio’s renowned Columbus Zoo and Aquarium boasts 10,000 animals living on 12,000 pristine acres, including its breathtaking conservation park, The Wilds. The 10,000-acre Wilds is home to rare, endangered and indigenous species, plus an intensive animal conservation effort that contributes more than $4 million in privately raised funds to support an average of 70 projects in 30 countries every year.

Another wondrous creature lives there, too.

Jack Hanna, America’s most beloved wildlife guru and the Columbus Zoo’s director emeritus, calls a 168-year-old farmhouse on the zoo’s grounds his part-time home. And now Nat Geo WILD is letting you live in Hanna’s world via its new six-part series, Secrets of the Zoo, which premieres July 29.

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Secrets takes viewers on an insider excursion at the zoo to meet both the animals and the army of people who work around the clock, seven days a week, brushing rhinos’ teeth, giving swimming lessons to little polar bears, returning creatures to their natural habitats and creating an enriching experience for the animals and the zoo’s millions of annual visitors.

Sure to leave you with a new appreciation for the people who devote their lives to giving animals in captivity a wild a life as possible (and make you want to book your trip to Columbus NOW), Secrets of the Zoo combines fascinating information and insight with breathtaking visuals and a healthy dose of humor that make it as irresistible as the human's critter costars.

Here's a preview of some of those critters in a scene from Secrets of the Zoo in which a mama tiger tries to wrangle some unruly cubs:

To further whet your appetite for adventure — and the show — we took an insider's tour of the zoo and The Wilds to let you in on a few of those secrets early, courtesy of veterinarian Priya Bapodra; vice president of community relations Patty Peters; director of communications Jennifer Fields; director of animal programs Suzi Rapp; The Wilds' vice president of operations Dr. Jan Ramer; The Wilds' director of animal management Dan Beetam; and animal keepers Zack Canter, Adam Felts, Cody Alfred and Curt Coleman, all of whom appear throughout the series.

Click through the gallery above for a wild preview of the series.

Secrets of the Zoo, Premieres Sunday, July 29, 9/8c, Nat Geo WILD