Jack Hanna, an animal and wildlife expert who became famous after his many television appearances, is retiring from public life due to dementia, his family said on Wednesday.
“Doctors have diagnosed our father, Jack Hanna, with dementia, which is now believed to be Alzheimer’s,” Hanna’s family wrote in a statement posted on his verified Twitter account.
“His condition has developed much faster in the past few months than any of us could have expected,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, Papa can no longer participate in public life, where people all over the world watched, learned and laughed next to him, as he used to be.”
“Jungle” Jack Hanna and his animals have become an integral part of television night and day thanks to his numerous appearances on shows such as “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson”, “Late Night with David Letterman” and “Today”.
These appearances earned Hanna his own shows, including Animal Adventures, Into the Wild, and Wild Countdown.
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The now 76-year-old is said to have retired from his position as director and then emeritus director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in December 2020 after 42 years.
“The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have been an important part of our lives since we moved to central Ohio as young girls in 1978,” his daughters wrote in their statement. “From day one, Dad was committed to improving wildlife habitats and focused on connecting the community with animals. After retiring from active leadership as Executive Director in 1992, he continued to serve as spokesman for the until he retired last year Zoos. “
The declaration paid tribute to his wife Suzi, who “has been by his side for 53 years in every corner of the world” and Hanna’s love for the community at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
“While Papa’s health has deteriorated rapidly, we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine through. And yes – he still wears his khakis at home,” the statement said. “To keep everyone safe in the face of COVID-19 restrictions, we’re asking for privacy, which is ironic given Dad’s love for interacting with people. We’re grateful for the many hearts he has touched over the years while this journey with him gives us strength. “
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