Wildlife expert Jack Hanna diagnosed with dementia, family says

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JUNE 15: Animal expert Jack Hanna attends the National Wildlife Federation’s “Voices for Wildlife” Anniversary Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on June 15, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Wildlife advocate and former Columbus Zoo director Jack Hanna has been diagnosed with dementia, his family announced Wednesday.

Hanna’s family shared the news on social media and said doctors believe the 74-year-old is now believed to have Alzheimer’s disease.

His condition “has progressed much faster in the last few months than any of us could have anticipated,” his daughters said in a letter.

The popular zookeeper known as “Jungle Jack” will no longer be able to participate in public life as he once did. 

Hanna had been a major part of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for decades up until his retirement last year, his family said.  

He also made multiple media appearances and also hosted several syndicated television shows including “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures,” “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild” and “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown.”

“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 letter said.

The family has asked for privacy, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, but said they “are grateful that the many hearts he’s touched over the years are with him during this journey, which gives us strength.”

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