Zookeeper Jack Hanna has dementia, will retire from public life

Zookeeper Jack Hanna has dementia, will retire from public life

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Jack Hanna, a zookeeper and host of an animal TV show, has been diagnosed with dementia and will be retiring from public life, his family have 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,” said the statement signed by his three daughters. 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 and NASCAR driver Justin Allgaier are pictured with an alligator on June 12, 2010 in Sparta, Ky. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

Hanna, who always wore khakis every time she appeared on TV and in photos, hosted the popular syndicated TV show Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures from 1993 to 2008. He also animated Jack Hanna is in the wild, which started 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 that showing and experiencing animals is essential to engage them in more impactful conversations,” his family said. “Even though Dad may no longer travel and work the same way, we know his contagious enthusiasm has touched many hearts and will continue to be his legacy. “

In a June 1995 photo, US House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, is assisted by Hanna as he holds a two-month-old Bengal tiger. (Richard Ellis / AFP via Getty Images)

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