Zookeeper ‘Jungle Jack’ Hanna No Longer Recognizes His Family: ‘The Jack People Knew Isn’t Here Anymore’

Jack Hanna dedicated his life to animal rights, founding the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and appearing on several talk shows to educate people about wildlife.

Hanna has been a source of wonderful pleasure and education with multiple award-winning animal shows to help people appreciate the importance of the natural environment.

The beloved zookeeper, has spent his life telling others about the species he cherishes, but in his old age, he has had difficulty recalling his important life. In 2019, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a sickness that has robbed him of his memory in old age.

Jack Hanna, 1992 | Source: Getty Images

Hanna, once a cheerful Tennessee native with an inexhaustible supply of hilarious jokes and a signature leather outback hat, has been experiencing a growing number of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Hanna, 76, has little memory of his previous life after four years of battling the disease, with his wife observing, “The Hanna people knew isn’t here anymore.”

Jack Hanna in New Orleans, Louisiana, January 1999 | Source: Getty Images

Hanna’s Alzheimer’s disease has progressed to the point where he is unable to recognize his own family.

He now spends the most of his time with his adoring wife, Suzi Egli, and their gorgeous dog, Brassy. He thinks of his daughter, Kathaleen, who comes from England to help care for her father.

The plight of the beloved zookeeper has not gone unnoticed. Tom Schmid, the current CEO of the Columbus Zoo, thanked Hanna’s family for informing him about his health.

Hanna’s daughter described how tough it was for her father, saying, “He lived in fear that the public would find out.”

Schmid also praised Hanna for his years of service to the zoo, stating that it would not be what it is now without his tireless work.

The Columbus Zoo has set up a green mailbox where guests may deposit letters to Hanna to show him and his family how much he meant to countless American families.

Hanna’s family has also publicly expressed gratitude to everyone who has sent words of support and well-wishes. They admitted that the help had gotten them through this difficult moment. Although they appreciate the letters, they also expressed gratitude to the public for respecting their privacy, noting in a public message:

“While Dad/Jack is still mobile, his mind fails him, the light in his eyes has dimmed, and we miss who he was each and every moment of the day. We have been so grateful for your kind messages, words of support, and the privacy you have afforded our family.”

Hanna, like other renowned faces with neurological disorders, such as Michael J. Fox, relies heavily on his family’s assistance.

His wife spoke out about caring for him, saying lovingly, “It’s hard. Some days are quite difficult. But dad looked after me all those years, and now it’s my job to look after him.”