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Jack Hanna diagnosed with dementia, family says his health has ‘deteriorated quickly’
Patriot-News - 4/7/2021
Jack Hanna, a wildlife conservationist, TV host and former executive director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been diagnosed with dementia, according to a statement by his daughters.
“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. 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,” Kathaleen, Suzanne and Julie Hanna said in a statement.
“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.”
Hanna, 74, hosted the television shows “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures” from 1993 to 2008, “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild” since 2007 and “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown” from 2011 to 2020.
“Jungle” Jack, who always wore khaki, served as executive director of Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
The daughters said, “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.”
The family said that Jack Hanna was able to engage “with millions of households through his media appearances and weekly television programs.”
“This allowed him to bring an unparalleled level of awareness to the importance of global conservation given the unrelenting pressures on the natural environment. To say that we are abundantly proud to be his daughters is an understatement.”
Hanna’s wife, Suzi, the daughters said, is recovering from “major surgery” as a result of “life-long challenges from her childhood leukemia.”
The family asked for privacy “to keep everyone safe in light of COVID-19 restrictions.”
“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.”
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