Jack Hanna diagnosed with dementia, family says health ‘deteriorated rapidly’

Jack Hanna diagnosed with dementia, family says health ‘deteriorated rapidly’

Jack Hanna has been diagnosed with dementia, according to a letter shared by his family on Wednesday. Hanna, 74, will withdraw from public life as his condition has “deteriorated quickly,” that letter reads. Doctors believe Hanna may have Alzheimer’s disease.

“His condition has progressed much faster in the last few months than any of us could have anticipated. 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,” a statement from his family reads in part. Just 10 years later, Hanna was asked to serve as director of a little-known zoo in Columbus, Ohio.

“Jungle” Jack Hanna is largely responsive for elevating the zoo’s reputation, appearing on several prominent television shows — including David Letterman — over the years. Hanna first arrived in Ohio in 1965 to attend Muskingum University— always the animal lover, he even brought his pet donkey with him to live in the fraternity house. While at Muskingum, Hanna met his wife, Suzi, and they married in 1968. The Hannas say they never anticipated the adventures ahead but, together, they were perfectly positioned to lead the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the entire zoological world into the 21st century.

The beloved animal advocate retired from his duties at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium at the end of last year, but retained the title director emeritus. “While Dad’s health has deteriorated quickly, we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine through. And yes – he still wears his khakis at home.”

He has authored 15 books, hosted several televisions series, has been the media’s go-to wildlife correspondent and permeated pop culture while sharing amazing animals with audiences nationwide. Hanna served as the Columbus Zoo’s director from 1978 to 1992 before becoming director emeritus.

Source “Our mom – Suzi – has been by his side for 53 years in every corner of the world. She continues to be his rock (and ours, too). We have great respect and admiration for Mom as we move through not only this difficult time with Dad, but also Julie’s continued life-long challenges from her childhood leukemia, as she is currently recovering from major surgery,” family members said.

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