Animal Expert Jack Hanna Has Dementia, Says Family: "Unable To Work And Travel The Same Way"

Animal Expert Jack Hanna Has Dementia, Says Family: "Unable To Work And Travel The Same Way"

Hanna's children revealed via a statement that his condition has progressed much faster in the past few months than they had expected.

Cover Image Source: Animal expert Jack Hanna attends the National Wildlife Federation's "Voices for Wildlife" Anniversary Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California,2011. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Jack Hanna, the beloved animal and wildlife expert, is stepping back from public life following his dementia diagnosis. On Wednesday, Hanna's family announced the news by sharing a letter on the former director of Ohio's Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's official Twitter account. Doctors have diagnosed our dad, Jack Hanna, with dementia, now believed to be Alzheimer's disease. His condition has progressed much faster in the last few months than any of us could have anticipated, read the statement. Therefore, they explained that this was the reason behind Hanna's decision to move away from the spotlight. 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, read the letter.



A passion for wildlife conservation and education has been at the core of who our dad is and everything he has accomplished with the help of so many. 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. He’s always said, "You have to touch the heart to teach the mind." 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, continued the note. 


Hanna was a staple on daytime and late-night television shows. He rose to fame following many television appearances on shows like Late night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and Today. According to CNN, his popularity helped him get his won shows including Into the Wild, Animal Adventures, and Wild Countdown. His daughters Kathaleen, Julie, and Suzanne, also emphasized the impact that their father's contributions to wildlife conservation made through his advocacy efforts and public appearance. They noted, To say we are abundantly proud to be his daughter is an understatement.




The 76-year-old retired from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium last year after serving for 42 years as the director and then director emeritus. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been a major part of our lives since we moved to Central Ohio as young girls in 1978. From day one, Dad advocated for improved wildlife habitats and focused on connecting the community with animals. After he left his active management role as Executive Director in 1992, he continued to be a spokesperson for the zoo until his retirement last year, read the letter. 



His daughters did not forget to thank their mother for her unwavering support. They said: 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. Concluding the post, they explained how Hanna's condition has deteriorated quickly but noted that he hadn't lost his wonderful charm and sense of humor.



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, it read. To keep everyone safe in light of COVID-19 restrictions, we are asking for privacy, which is ironic given Dad's love of interacting with people. We are grateful that the many hearts he's touched over the years are with him during this journey, which gives us strength, they added.  

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