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Jack Hanna talks in regards to the 40 years he is been with the Columbus Zoo.

Jack Hanna talks in regards to the 40 years he is been with the Columbus Zoo and the way it got here to be.

Doral Chenoweth, The Columbus Dispatch

Jack Hanna has been recognized with dementia, now believed to be Alzheimer’s illness, Hanna’s three daughters introduced in a letter printed Wednesday.

Hanna, the 74-year-old internationally recognized director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, has spent greater than 4 many years within the public eye placing Columbus and its zoo’s conservation efforts on the nationwide stage. He formally retired from his function because the zoo’s spokesperson in December 2020. 

Jack Hanna: Celebrating 40 years with the Columbus Zoo

Now, Hanna’s daughters — Kathaleen, Suzanne and Julie — say their dad is unable to take part in public life like he as soon as did as his situation has severely worsened in the previous couple of months.

“A ardour for wildlife conservation and schooling has been on the core of who our dad is and every little thing he has completed with the assistance of so many,” the Hannas wrote. “He spent his life connecting folks and wildlife as a result of he has all the time believed that having folks see and expertise animals is vital to participating them in additional impactful conservation efforts.

“He all the time mentioned, ‘You need to contact the center to show the thoughts.’ Regardless that Dad is not in a position to journey and work in the identical manner, we all know that his infectious enthusiasm has touched many hearts and can proceed to be his legacy.”

Hanna began on the Columbus Zoo in 1978

Hanna was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, the place he housed unique animals on a spot on his dad’s property referred to as Hanna’s Ark. He grew to become director of the Columbus Zoo in 1978. Many credit score Hanna for revitalizing the zoo and placing Columbus’ conservation efforts on the map.

Hanna’s reputation grew as he took his work on the highway, sharing his love for animal conservation in all places from school rooms to the set of “Late Night time with David Letterman.” In 2018, Hanna’s calendar had him touring 220 days a yr. Tens of millions of households additionally tuned in to Hanna’s weekly TV packages — together with Animal Adventures, Into the Wild and Wild Countdown.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium now’s residence to greater than 10,000 animals, spans 588 acres and attracts hundreds of thousands of holiday makers annually.

Jack Hanna: Revisiting one of the best of Jack Hanna’s 102 appearances with David Letterman

“To say that we’re abundantly pleased with our dad is an understatement,” the Hannas wrote.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium shared the Hanna daughters’ letter in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re saddened by the newest information of Jungle Jack’s dementia prognosis, now believed to be Alzheimer’s illness, and Julie’s well being issues that had been shared in the present day in a heartfelt letter written by Jack’s daughters. Please be part of us in sending messages of help for the Hannas,” the zoo wrote.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine launched an announcement Wednesday afternoon sending his condolences to the Hanna household.

“Fran and I had been very unhappy to study of Jack Hanna’s prognosis of Alzheimer’s that his household so bravely shared with Ohio and the world in the present day,” DeWine mentioned. “Over time, Fran and I’ve had the chance to take our youngsters and grandkids to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds. After we had been there with Jack, we had been so lucky to expertise his ardour for animals and the pure world.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther shared the governor’s sentime.

“My coronary heart goes out to the Hanna household on the information of Jack’s prognosis of dementia. It’s a merciless illness that steals our family members from us little by little. I pray for them to have energy and to know the way a lot this neighborhood loves them,” Ginther mentioned.

Household discovering energy in Suzi Hanna

Jack Hanna isn’t the one member of the family at present coping with well being points. Daughter Julie is recovering from a serious surgical procedure and has handled lifelong well being points on account of childhood leukemia.

The Hanna daughters wrote that regardless of the hardships of those previous few months, they’ve discovered energy of their mom and Jack’s spouse of 53 years, Suzi, who they are saying has been the household’s rock. Additionally they wrote they have been strengthened understanding “the numerous hearts he is touched through the years are with him throughout this journey.”

“Whereas Dad’s well being has deteriorated shortly, we are able to guarantee you that his nice humorousness continues to shine by,” Hanna’s daughters wrote. “And sure — he nonetheless wears khakis at residence.”

shendrix@dispatch.com

@sheridan120

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