Famed Zookeeper ‘Jungle’ Jack Hanna Is Retiring After Being Diagnosed With Dementia, Family Says

Jack Hanna
Jack Hanna

The family requested privacy and understanding due to COVID-19 restrictions, adding, "ironic given Dad's love of interacting with people."

Celebrity zookeeper and beloved TV personality “Jungle” Jack Hanna has been diagnosed with dementia, according to his family.

On Wednesday, his family said that the animal expert and former director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will be retiring from public life. His family took to social media to break the news about the 74-year-old and said that doctors believe his condition progressed much faster than anticipated and that it is believed to be Alzheimer's, according to CBS News.

"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," his daughters wrote.

His daughters, Kathaleen, Suzanne and Julie, published the lengthy statement and said that their mother, Suzi, Jack’s wife of 53 years, continues to be by his side and is the family rock.

Hanna was a fixture on talk shows like "The Late Show with David Letterman," "The Late Late Show with James Corden," and "The View," among others. He also had a series of shows himself, including “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” and “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown.”

"Dad engaged with millions of households through his media appearances and weekly television programs — including Animal Adventures, Into the Wild and Wild Countdown," his daughters wrote. "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 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," the statement continued. "We are grateful that the many hearts he's touched over the years are with him during this journey, which gives us strength."