(CNN) – Jack Hanna, an animal and wildlife expert made famous by countless television appearances, is retiring from public life due to dementia, his family announced on Wednesday.
“Doctors have determined that our father, Jack Hanna, has dementia, which is now believed to be Alzheimer’s,” Hanna’s family wrote in a statement published in your verified Twitter account.
“His condition has progressed much faster in recent months than we could ever have expected,” the statement said. “Unfortunately Dad can no longer participate in public life like he used to, where people from all over the world watched, learned and laughed with him.”
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“Jungle” Jack Hanna and his animals became a staple of daytime and nighttime television, thanks to their numerous appearances on shows such as “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”, “Late Night With David Letterman” and “Today”.
Those performances yielded Hanna her own shows, such as ‘Animal Adventures’, ‘Into the Wild’ and ‘Wild Countdown’.
The now 76-year-old reportedly retired after 42 years as director and then director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in December 2020.
“The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been an important part of our lives since we moved to downtown Ohio as children in 1978,” their daughters wrote in their statement. “From day one, Dad advocated improving wildlife habitats and focused on connecting the community with animals. After stepping down from his active management role as CEO in 1992, he remained a spokesperson for the zoo until his retirement last year.
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The statement pays tribute to his wife Suzi, who “has stood by his side for 53 years in every corner of the world” and Hanna’s love for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium community.
While Dad’s health has deteriorated rapidly, we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine. And yes, he still uses his persimmons at home, ”the statement said. “To keep everyone safe in the face of COVID-19 restrictions, we’re asking for privacy, which is ironic given Dad’s love of interacting with people. We are grateful that the many hearts he has touched over the years are with him on this journey, which gives us strength. “