Jack Hanna, an animal and wildlife specialist who rose to fame as a result of his numerous television appearances, has announced his retirement from public life due to dementia, according to his family. Jack Hanna, the popular zoo director for making TV shows with live animals, was diagnosed with dementia, said his family on Wednesday.
The family said in a statement that doctors believe it is Alzheimer’s disease.
“His health has improved much more quickly than all of us might have anticipated in the last few months,” said his daughters. “Unfortunately, Dad can no longer engage as he used to in public life, where the world over listened, learned, and chuckled next to him,” they said. “
Hanna, 74, known as the Jungle Jack, was the owner of Ohio’s Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
He was renowned for introducing animals to TV hosts such as David Letterman and others in 1983, and to “Good Morning America.”
Jack Hanna: The Jungle Jack
He also had his own TV shows Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures, Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild, and Animal Adventures of Jack Hanna.
Hanna, who often dressed in khakis, saw animals as ambassadors for the wild.
In 1978 he was appointed as director of the Columbus Zoo and last year he retired. The zoo credited him with transforming it into what it is today from an “old set of plums and structures.” The zoo is also among the best in the United States.
The zoo expressed its sadness upon learning of the diagnosis and encouraged fans to send messages of support to the family.
His daughters, Kathaleen, Suzanne, and Julie, wrote that their father felt that being able to see animals encouraged people to become more involved in conservation efforts in the wild.
“He’s always said, ‘To teach the mind, you have to touch the heart,'” they wrote.
Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio said he and the rest of the state were sending their condolences to the family and praying for them.
Hanna’s daughters stated that they were requesting privacy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which they found ironic considering their father’s love of engaging with people.
“While Dad’s health has rapidly deteriorated,” his daughters wrote, “we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine through.” “And yes, he always dresses in khakis when he’s at home.”
His family said, “He has spent his life linking people and wildlife because he has always believed that allowing people to see and encounter animals is critical to engaging them in more impactful conversations.”