Zoo's James Wolk in the Blame It on Leo episode

It’s a safe bet James Wolk will leave this summer with a deeper respect for animals.

The owner of a Shepherd-Rottweiler mix, the “Mad Men” and “The Crazy Ones” alum is dealing instead with lions and tigers – and he’d be the first to add, “Oh, my” — on “Zoo,” CBS’ weekly Tuesday adaptation of the suspense novel co-written by mystery icon James Patterson.

The actor admits to being somewhat amazed at landing the role of Jackson Oz, a zoologist turned African tour guide whose expertise on other creatures puts him at the forefront of probing why they’re suddenly attacking humans.

“The show has actually taken that seed and gone in a lot of different directions under [Patterson’s] go-ahead and blessing,” the friendly Wolk tells Zap2it. “A TV show does have that opportunity. I started with the book and then read the script, and there’s an amazing group of writers and producers on this [including Patterson himself]. I jumped at the chance to be a part of it.”

Praising the handlers and trainers who work on “Zoo” for ensuring the safety of the show’s cast and crew, Wolk muses, “You literally can’t get any more animals in one project. It takes patience with them … and respect for them. And they’re amazing; whatever we need them to do, they do. I mean, they’re not actors. They’re animals.”

Much of “Zoo” has been shot in New Orleans, a big bonus for Wolk: “It’s a beautiful city, with culture and restaurants and tons of great watering holes. When you’re not shooting, there’s plenty to do, and the people are just very kind. There’s a Southern hospitality there. It’s a great place to hang your hat and shoot a series or a film.”

Having worked so frequently and so visibly in recent years, Wolk reflects, “I’ve been really fortunate to have made my living in TV and have been a part of it. It’s been a great learning experience, too. Whether it’s drama or comedy, I just get to soak it it all up, and I’m fortunate that people keep bringing me back.”

Posted by:Jay Bobbin