ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna diagnosed with dementia

Apr 8, 2021, 6:54 AM

FILE - Wildlife advocate Jack Hanna poses for a portrait with a serval cub in New York on Oct. 12, ...

FILE - Wildlife advocate Jack Hanna poses for a portrait with a serval cub in New York on Oct. 12, 2015. The family of celebrity zookeeper and TV show host Jack Hanna said he's been diagnosed with dementia and will retire from public life. (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP, file)

(Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP, file)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Celebrity zookeeper and animal TV show host Jack Hanna has been diagnosed with dementia and will retire from public life, his family said.

In a news release Wednesday, his family added that it’s believed he now has Alzheimer’s disease that has quickly progressed in the last few months.

The 74-year-old Hanna was director of the Columbus Zoo from 1978 to 1992 and still serves as its director emeritus.

“Dad advocated for improved wildlife habitats and focused on connecting the community with animals,” the statement signed by his three daughters said. Hanna continued to be a spokesperson for the Ohio zoo until he retired in 2020.

Hanna is also well-known for his live animal demonstrations on talk shows hosted by Johnny Carson, David Letterman and James Corden, increasing the profile of the Columbus Zoo and leading to massive attendance increases over the years.

Hanna, who always wore khakis on every television appearance and in photos, hosted the popular syndicated TV show “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures” from 1993 to 2008. He also hosted “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” which started in 2007, and “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown” until last year.

“While Dad’s health has deteriorated quickly, we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine through,” the statement said. “And yes, he still wears his khakis at home.”

His family asked for privacy in light of COVID-19 restrictions.

“He has spent his life connecting people and wildlife because he has always believed that having people see and experience animals is key to engaging them in more impactful conversations,” his family said. “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.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Arts + Entertainment

kevin and michael bacon performing, they'll stop in utah in June...

Sam Herrera

Kevin Bacon to stop in Utah this summer with Bacon Brothers band

Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael will stop by Utah this June to take part in Lehi's Round-Up concert as the Bacon Brothers band.

2 days ago

KSL Movie Show Review of "Perfect Days." This is one of those “art house films” that mainstream...

Steve Salles

KSL Movie Show Review: ‘Perfect Days’ is an exceptional effort

"Perfect Days" is one of those “art house films” that mainstream audiences can’t understand why anyone would want to sit through -- I’ll try to explain why in this review. 

2 days ago

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, center, sits with her attorney Jason Bowles, left, during the first day of t...

MORGAN LEE Associate Press

Negligence or scapegoating? Trial of ‘Rust’ armorer begins in fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin

Prosecutors sought to pin blame on a movie weapons supervisor for bringing live ammunition on set that contributed to the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin during production of the film "Rust."

2 days ago

steve salles next to a poster for ordinary angels...

Steve Salles

KSL Movie Show review: ‘Ordinary Angels’ is a feel-good movie worth watching

In this KSL Movie Show review, Steve Salles says to bring tissues to the theater if you go see 'Ordinary Angels.'

3 days ago

A bench sits surrounded by colorful, thriving plants in Salt Lake City's Red Butte Garden...

Mariah Maynes

Red Butte Garden announces new speaker series

Red Butte Garden announced a new speaker series called Cultivating Wisdom and Wonder on Wednesday. 

3 days ago

Voice actor Sarah Elmaleh poses for a photo in Los Angeles on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. Recent years ...

MATT O'BRIEN AP Technology Writer

Some video game actors are letting AI clone their voices. They just don’t want it to replace them

Video game studios are using AI-generated voices in games. Some actors are cautiously open to it with fair compensation and usage safeguards.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna diagnosed with dementia