COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Zookeeper and animal TV host Jack Hanna has been diagnosed with dementia and will be retiring from public life, his family has said.
In a press release on Wednesday, his family added that he is now believed to have Alzheimer’s disease which has progressed rapidly in recent months.
Hanna, 74, was Director of the Columbus Zoo from 1978 to 1992 and is still Director Emeritus.
“Dad advocated for improved wildlife habitat and focused on connecting the community with animals,” the statement signed by his three daughters said. Hanna continued to be the Ohio Zoo spokesperson until her retirement in 2020.
Hanna is also well known for her live animal demonstrations on talk shows hosted by Johnny Carson, David Letterman and James Corden, raising the profile of the Columbus Zoo and leading to a massive increase in attendance over the years.
Hanna, who always wore khakis in every TV and photo appearance, hosted the popular subscribed TV show “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures” from 1993 to 2008. He also hosted “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild”, which featured debuted in 2007, and “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown” until last year.
“Although dad’s health has deteriorated rapidly, we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine,” the statement said. “And yes, he always wears his khakis at home.
Her family have requested confidentiality in light of COVID-19 restrictions.
“He has spent his life connecting people and wildlife because he has always believed it was essential for people to see and experience animals to engage them in more impactful conversations,” his family said. “Even though Dad may no longer be able to travel and work the same way, we know his contagious enthusiasm has touched many hearts and will continue to be his legacy.
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