Jack Hanna Diagnosed With Dementia, Family Announces in Statement

by Emily Morgan

The family of Jack Hanna recently announced his retirement after doctors diagnosed him with dementia. Known as “Jungle Jack,” Hanna was a longtime wildlife advocate and zoo director.

On Wednesday, his daughters made the tragic announcement. They said that the 74-year-old’s diagnosis had now progressed faster than they anticipated. According to the family, they now believe the disease has transformed from dementia into alzheimer’s disease.

“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,” his daughters wrote.

For 40 years, Hanna dedicated his life to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, acting as the zoo’s director since 1978. He retires from that role in 1992. However, Hanna was nowhere near slowing down. He went on to work as a spokesperson for the zoo and went on tours with some of the world’s most exotic animals.

“Dad advocated for improved wildlife habitats and focused on connecting the community with animals,” the statement by his three daughters said. Hanna continued to be a spokesperson for the zoo until he retired in 2020.

The celebrity zookeeper first got notoriety for his live animal demonstrations on talk shows. Over the years, he appeared in front of hosts such as Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and James Corden.

Jack Hanna’s Daughters: ‘His Infectious Enthusiasm Has Touched Many Hearts’

From 1993 to 2008, Hanna got his own TV show known as “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures.”

Always wearing his signature khakis, he later hosted “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” which began in 2007, and “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown” until 2020.

“While Dad’s health has deteriorated quickly, we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine through,” the daughters wrote. “And yes, he still wears his khakis at home.”

“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 conversations,” his family said. “Even though Dad is no longer able to travel and work in the same way, we know that his infectious enthusiasm has touched many hearts and will continue to be his legacy.”

Hanna’s daughters, Kathaleen, Julie, and Suzanne, also highlighted their father’s “impactful” contributions to wildlife conversation efforts through his media appearances and advocacy. They also said they are “abundantly proud to be his daughters.”

Amid COVID-19, his family is asking for privacy during this time.