Jack Hanna, the zoo director famous for appearing on TV shows with live animals, has been diagnosed with dementia, his family said on Wednesday.
Doctors believe it is Alzheimer’s disease, the family said in a statement.
“Her condition has progressed much faster in the past few months than we could have imagined,” her daughters said.
“Sadly, Dad is no longer able to participate in public life like he used to, where people all over the world watched, learned and laughed alongside him,” they said.
Hanna, 74, known as Jungle Jack, was director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, where he remains director emeritus.
He was famous for bringing animals to TV hosts like David Letterman and others, and to “Good Morning America” - where he first appeared with baby gorillas in 1983.
He also had his own TV shows, Animal Adventures by Jack Hanna, Into the Wild by Jack Hanna, and Animal Adventures by Jack Hanna.
Hanna, who always appeared in persimmons, saw animals as ambassadors of those who lived in nature.
He was hired as director of the Columbus Zoo in 1978 and retired last year. The zoo gave it credit for transforming it from an “aging collection of pens and buildings” into what it is today. The zoo is often ranked among the best in the United States
The zoo said it was saddened to learn of the diagnosis and asked fans to join in sending messages of support to the family.
His daughters, Kathaleen, Suzanne and Julie, wrote that their father believed that being able to see animals made them become more involved in conservation efforts in nature.
“He always said, ‘You have to touch the heart to teach the spirit,'” they wrote.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine mentionned he, along with the state, addressed his best wishes to the family and kept them in their prayers.
Hanna’s daughters have said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic they are asking for privacy, which they described as ironic given their father’s love for interacting with people.
“Although dad’s health has deteriorated rapidly, we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine through,” his daughters wrote. “And yes – he always wears his khakis at home.”