Animal expert Jack Hanna retires due to dementia

Illness removes Jack Hanna from public life 0:36

(CNN) – Jack Hanna, an animal and wildlife expert made famous by numerous television appearances, is retiring from public life due to dementia, his family announced last Wednesday.

“Doctors have diagnosed our father, Jack Hanna, with dementia, which is now believed to be Alzheimer’s disease,” Hanna’s family wrote in a statement posted on their verified Twitter account.

“His condition has progressed much faster in recent months than any of us could have anticipated,” the statement said. “Sadly, Dad can no longer participate in public life as he used to, where people from all over the world watched, learned and laughed along with him.”

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“Jungle” Jack Hanna and his animals became a staple of daytime and evening television, thanks to their numerous appearances on such shows as “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” “Late Night with David Letterman” and “Today.”
Those appearances earned Hanna her own shows, such as “Animal Adventures,” “Into the Wild” and “Wild Countdown.”

The now 76-year-old reportedly retired as director and then director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in December 2020 after 42 years.

“The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been an important part of our lives since we moved to central Ohio as children in 1978,” their daughters wrote in their statement. “From day one, Dad advocated for improving wildlife habitats and focused on connecting the community with animals. After leaving his active management role as CEO in 1992, he remained a spokesperson for the zoo until his retirement last year.

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The statement pays tribute to his wife Suzi, who “has been by his side for 53 years in all corners of the world” and Hanna’s love for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium community.

“Although Dad’s health has deteriorated rapidly, we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine. And yes, he still uses his persimmons at home, ”the statement said. “To keep everyone safe in light of the COVID-19 restrictions, we ask for privacy, which is ironic given Dad’s love of interacting with people. We are grateful that the many hearts he has touched over the years are with him during this journey, that gives us strength. “