The family of Jack Hanna announced Wednesday he has been diagnosed with dementia, “now believed to be Alzheimer’s,” and that the disease has “progressed much faster in the last few months.”
The conservationist, who routinely appeared on television holding large and exotic animals, spent his life dedicated to connecting people with animals and improving wildlife habitats.
His daughters, Kathaleen, Suzanne and Julie, posted a joint statement on Twitter about his diagnosis and looking back on his long career at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
A letter from the Hanna Family pic.twitter.com/ewuNYa0ReG— Jack Hanna (@JungleJackHanna) April 7, 2021
“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,” the statement from his daughters reads.
Hanna served as both the director and director emeritus at the Columbus Zoo for more than 40 years. He retired in December 2020.
“Everybody in the Zoo world is terrifically sad to hear the news about Jack," said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard in a statement. "He’s a really good man. I have a photo of him in my office! He has reached people far and wide and has inspired millions to fall in love with animals. I wish all the best to him, his wife Suzi, and his daughters.”