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Celebrity Zookeeper Jack Hanna Has Dementia, His Family Says


Jack Hanna, the affable zookeeper and tv fixture who has introduced a panoply of unique animals into Americans’ dwelling rooms, from an Andean condor to a wolverine, has dementia and can retire from public life, his household mentioned.

In a letter shared Wednesday on social media, the household of the 74-year-old Mr. Hanna mentioned that he had developed what’s believed to be Alzheimer’s illness and that his situation had deteriorated quickly prior to now few months.

“Sadly, Dad is no longer able to participate in public life as he used to, where people all over the world watched, learned and laughed alongside him,” Mr. Hanna’s three daughters mentioned within the letter.

Last yr, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio introduced that Mr. Hanna would retire from his management position there after 42 years as director and director emeritus.

Beyond the zoo, Jungle Jack Hanna, as he’s recognized, has turn out to be a mainstay on tv, from internet hosting his personal Emmy-winning daytime collection to his common appearances on exhibits just like the “Late Show” with David Letterman and “Good Morning America.”

In his trademark khaki garments and leather-based outback hat, Mr. Hanna was accompanied on the exhibits by a solid of creatures, from the curious to the cuddlesome, to which he gave high billing. Many of the encounters left the present’s hosts squeamish, notably Mr. Letterman, who The Columbus Dispatch reported had booked Mr. Hanna greater than 100 instances on his present over 30 years.

The ensemble of animals showing with Mr. Hanna on Mr. Letterman’s present included a camel, penguins, electrical eels, a leopard and a cobra.

“As usual, in preparation for his visit tonight, I’m using a tick shampoo,” Mr. Letterman joked whereas introducing Mr. Hanna on his present in September 1998.

Mr. Hanna’s first look on Mr. Letterman’s present was in 1985, in accordance with The Dispatch. They went on to develop a repartee with each other, with Mr. Hanna usually exchanging quips with the late-night tv legend and plopping wild animals down on Mr. Letterman’s desk.

“He has spent his life connecting people and wildlife because he has always believed that having people see and experience animals is key to engaging them in more impactful conservation efforts,” Mr. Hanna’s daughters mentioned. “He’s always said, ‘You have to touch the heart to teach the mind.’”

The announcement by Mr. Hanna’s household on Wednesday touched off an outpouring of tributes.

Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio said on Twitter that he and his spouse, Fran, have been saddened to be taught of Mr. Hanna’s analysis.

“Over the years, Fran and I have had the opportunity to take our kids and grandkids to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds,” Mr. DeWine wrote. “When we were there with Jack, we were so fortunate to experience his passion for animals and the natural world.”

The Alzheimer’s Association counseled Mr. Hanna’s household on Twitter for its disclosure.

“We are grateful to Jack Hanna and his family for bravely sharing his dementia diagnosis, letting other families facing Alzheimer’s and other dementia know they are not alone,” the affiliation mentioned.

Mr. Hanna’s first job, at age 11, was working for a veterinarian in his native Knoxville, Tenn., which is the place he developed his love and respect for animals, in accordance with a biography on his website. He opened a pet store in Knoxville along with his spouse, Suzi, and have become a director of a small zoo in Sanford, Fla., in 1973, his biography mentioned.

It was early on that Mr. Hanna additionally realized of the risks that wild animals can pose to folks.

In the early Seventies, a 3-year-old boy misplaced an arm when he was mauled by a lion at Mr. Hanna’s property in Tennessee, according to The Dispatch.

“That lives with me every single day,” Mr. Hanna advised the newspaper in a video posted in 2018.

Mr. Hanna turned the director of the Columbus Zoo in 1978 and director emeritus in 1992. He has written 15 books, in accordance with the zoo, which named a an immersive exhibit after Mr. Hanna and a fund after Mr. Hanna and his spouse.

Mr. Hanna’s household mentioned he had engaged with tens of millions of individuals by way of his tv and media appearances through the years.

“This allowed him to bring an unparalleled level of awareness to the importance of global conservation given the unrelenting pressures on the natural environment,” his household mentioned.

Mr. Hanna’s daughters mentioned that their father had not misplaced his humorousness and that his type hadn’t modified.

“And yes,” they mentioned, “he still wears his khakis at home.”





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