Beloved wildlife expert Jack Hanna retiring from public life after dementia diagnosis (2023)

The famed conservationist and former zookeeper's children announced the diagnosis.

By Tyler Aquilina April 07, 2021 at 04:29 PM EDT

(Video) Jack Hanna Retiring Due To Dementia
(Video) Beloved zookeeper Jack Hanna diagnosed with dementia, family says

Jack Hanna

Beloved wildlife expert Jack Hanna retiring from public life after dementia diagnosis (2)

Jack Hanna is known for his frequent TV appearances with exotic animals.

| Credit: Rich Polk/Getty Images

(Video) Beloved Columbus Zoo director Jack Hanna’s dementia diagnosis l GMA

(Video) Animal Expert Jack Hanna Diagnosed With Dementia | TODAY

Famed conservationist and former zookeeper Jack Hanna has been diagnosed with dementia, believed to be Alzheimer's disease, and is stepping back from public life, his family announced Wednesday.

"His condition has progressed much faster in the last few months than any of us could have anticipated," Hanna's children Kathaleen, Suzanne, and Julie wrote in a statement posted to social media. "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."

"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," they added. "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. We are grateful that the many hearts he's touched over the years are with him during this journey, which gives us strength."

Hanna was the director of Ohio's Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from 1978 to 1992, and stayed on as a spokesperson for the zoo for many years, officially retiring at the end of 2020. He is also known for his frequent TV appearances with exotic animals, usually on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and Good Morning America.

(Video) Experts discuss identifying and managing dementia in wake of Jack Hanna's diagnosis

Related content:


Is it true that Jack Hanna has dementia? ›

Jack Bushnell Hanna, a retired American zookeeper and a former director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, was recently diagnosed with dementia and what is now believed by his family to be Alzheimer's disease.

Why did Jack Hanna retire? ›

A day later, in timing they said was unrelated, Hanna's family announced he had dementia and would retire from public life.

Did Jack Hanna pass? ›

Jack Bushnell Hanna (born January 2, 1947) is a retired American zookeeper and a former director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Jack Hanna
Years active1973–2020
Notable workJack Hanna's Animal Adventures Jack Hanna's Into the Wild Jack Hanna's Wild Countdown
SpouseSuzi Egli ​ ( m. 1968)​
7 more rows

How old was Jack Hanna when he was diagnosed with dementia? ›

At 74, Hanna is of average age for dementia.

What is the difference between dementia and alzheimers? ›

While dementia is a general term, Alzheimer's disease is a specific brain disease. It is marked by symptoms of dementia that gradually get worse over time. Alzheimer's disease first affects the part of the brain associated with learning, so early symptoms often include changes in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.

Did Jack Hannah retire? ›

At his retirement, he was the zoo's director emeritus and had gained a national profile for the zoo.

What is happening with Jack Hanna? ›

He retired at the end of December. POWELL, Ohio — Jack Hanna has been diagnosed with dementia and will retire from public life, according to a letter shared by his family on Wednesday. He was director of the Columbus Zoo from 1978 to 1992 and still serves as its director emeritus.

What is going on with Jack Hanna? ›

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.

What is the Columbus Zoo controversy? ›

The Columbus Zoo has repaid nearly $44,000 in back taxes for two rental properties tied to last year's financial scandal. Why it matters: This is another ripple of mismanagement and corruption by former zoo leaders in recent years.

Is Julie Hanna ill? ›

She continues to be his rock (and ours, too). We have great respect and admiration for Mom as we move through not only this difficult time with Dad, but also Julie's continued life-long challenges from her childhood leukemia, as she is currently recovering from major surgery.

How old is Jack Hanna now? ›

Is Jack Hanna married? ›

After spending a few years at Kiski, a boarding school in Pennsylvania, Jack attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Jack met his wife, Suzi Egli, while they were at Muskingum, and they married in 1968.

What actor was recently diagnosed with dementia? ›

Less than a year after Bruce Willis' family shared that the famed actor had the neurological disorder aphasia, they've announced that his condition has progressed and that he has a new diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia.

What animal guy has Alzheimer's? ›

"Doctors have diagnosed our dad, Jack Hanna, with dementia now believed to be Alzheimer's disease." The 74-year-old Hanna was a longtime contributor to "Good Morning America" beginning in the early 1980s and is one of the most notable animal experts in the United States.

Does Jack Hanna have a new wife? ›

SUZI Egli has been married to legendary animal expert Jack Hanna for more than five decades. It was revealed in April of 2021 that Hanna has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

What is the 3 word memory test? ›

The Mini-Cog test.

A third test, known as the Mini-Cog, takes 2 to 4 minutes to administer and involves asking patients to recall three words after drawing a picture of a clock. If a patient shows no difficulties recalling the words, it is inferred that he or she does not have dementia.

What is the 5 word memory test? ›

Introduction: The five-word test (5WT) is a serial verbal memory test with semantic cuing. It is proposed to rapidly evaluate memory of aging people and has previously shown its sensitivity and its specificity in identifying patients with AD.

What is the most common cause of death in dementia patients? ›

One of the most common causes of death for people with dementia is pneumonia caused by an infection. A person in the later stages of dementia may have symptoms that suggest that they are close to death, but can sometimes live with these symptoms for many months.

Does Jack Hanna still work at Columbus Zoo? ›

While his retirement from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium officially begins on January 1, 2021, the contributions he has made to the organization after serving as both director and director emeritus for 42 years will have long-lasting, positive impacts.

Who is taking over Columbus Zoo? ›

News of the AZA decision comes on the same day Tom Schmid, the current director of the Texas State Aquarium, was announced as the new CEO for the Columbus Zoo.

Does Jack Hanna have children? ›

Jack Hanna

What nationality is Jack Hanna? ›

Is Columbus Zoo going to shut down? ›

The zoo will remain open and the accreditation denial will have no impact on guest experiences, according to the zoo's website.

Why is the Columbus Zoo no longer accredited? ›

The Columbus Zoo lost its accreditation in October because the zoo "failed to uphold its standards," according to the AZA.

Is Columbus Zoo losing their license? ›

POWELL, Ohio —

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced the zoo has earned accreditation by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) after losing its appeal to restore its accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Who is Julie Hannah married to? ›

Julie Hannah and Andy MacAllister had a very glamourous wedding on 7th September in Marbella.

Is Jack Hanna a good person? ›

Jack is a very caring, kind, compassionate person.

Where is Julie Hannah from? ›

Hanna was born in Sohag, Egypt. She moved with her family to Irbid, Jordan, where they found themselves on the front lines of Black September, the Jordanian civil war. After fleeing a column of tanks firing on her school, the family escaped and made their way to Beirut, Lebanon.

Where did Jack Hanna live? ›

Jack Hanna

How many children does Jack Hannah have? ›

Though Jack is known for being a TV personality and director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, behind the scenes, he is a loving dad of three kids. The Tennessee native shares his children with his longtime wife, Suzi Egli.

Does Jack Hanna's wife work at the zoo? ›

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jack Hanna and his wife Suzi have been married for more than 50 years. But there has been another “Suzi” in his life for nearly that long. “Oh my gosh, I worked with that man for 40 years,” says Suzi Rapp, Vice President of Animal Programs at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Does Jack Hanna have a daughter? ›

Jack Hanna

Does Wendy Williams have onset dementia? ›

Wendy Williams does not have dementia

However, her younger brother Tommy, 54, denied these rumors, revealing Wendy has not been "displaying that type of behavior to the family".

What is the most commonly diagnosed irreversible dementia? ›

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia and is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. (Source: This brain disorder is an irreversible, progresses slowly and continually gets worse by destroying memory and thinking skills.

Who has a higher chance of dementia? ›

The greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer's and other dementias is increasing age, but these disorders are not a normal part of aging. While age increases risk, it is not a direct cause of Alzheimer's. Most individuals with the disease are 65 and older. After age 65, the risk of Alzheimer's doubles every five years.

Is milk good for Alzheimer? ›

Antioxidants in cow's milk can slow down brain ageing and protect against Alzheimer's, study finds | Euronews.

Does dairy contribute to Alzheimer's? ›

One study showed that consuming milk less than twice a week was not significantly associated with the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, compared with daily or 2 to 4 times a week milk intake [37].

Is there a link between eating meat and Alzheimer's? ›

In terms of meat intake, each additional 25 grams (approximately a single serving) of processed meat per day was associated with a 44% increased risk for all dementias and a 52% increased risk for Alzheimer's disease.

Does Dr Priya still work at the Columbus Zoo? ›

Priya is a senior veterinarian at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and helps to provide medical care to the 10,000 animals that are housed there.

What state does Jack Hanna live in? ›

Jack and his wife Suzi live in a log cabin in northwestern Montana. He says that he prefers to live humbly and comfortably in the throes of nature. His home, Elk Cabin, is just 700 square feet, but Jack said he didn't need much more.

Where does Jack Hanna's grandson Jack live? ›

On this week's episode, my grandson Jack and I learn about daily life in a Maasai village in Tanzania - herding cattle, going to school, and even learning a traditional dance!

What is Jack Hanna suffering from? ›

Doctors have diagnosed our dad, Jack Hanna, with dementia, now believed to be Alzheimer's disease.

How many children does Jack Hanna and his wife have? ›

The Hannas have been married for over 50 years and have three daughters, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. And, of course, their family wouldn't be complete without their golden retriever, Brass.

What singer has dementia? ›

This would go far to explain the astonishing fact that after his diagnosis with Alzheimer's, Tony Bennett continued to tour extensively, singing his 90-minute set of sophisticated music with such panache, precision and professionalism that audiences and critics never suspected his condition.

Where is Jack Hanna's wife? ›

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.”

Where does Julie Hanna live? ›

And then came Julie, who lives in Dublin. Suzi never complained when Jack would bring home a new lion, chimpanzee, goat, dog or other animal. She, too, would feed them and bathe them just like any other member of their family.

Does Jack Hanna Hunt? ›

He doesn't hunt, but supports those who do. The world was set up with a balance of predator and prey, and “without the good hunter, this world would be a disaster,” Hanna said.


1. Jack Hanna is battling dementia, retiring at 74 | New York Post
(New York Post)
2. Animal expert Jack Hanna living with Dementia, MLB Indians vaccinated, 'Immersive Van Gogh' in CLE
(WKYC Channel 3)
3. Jungle Jack Hanna's health diagnosis
(NBC4 Columbus)
4. Jack Hanna diagnosed with dementia
(NBC4 Columbus)
5. Jack Hanna, beloved animal expert, stepping away because of dementia
6. Jungle Jack Hanna's health
(NBC4 Columbus)


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