Knoxville native Jack Hanna diagnosed with dementia, family confirms


Wildlife advocate Jack Hanna poses for a portrait with a serval cub on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015 in New York. (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The family of Jack Hanna, a world-renowned wildlife advocate and Knoxville native, announced he has been diagnosed with dementia.

In an open letter released Thursday, the Hanna family said the 74-year-old’s condition has deteriorated in the last few months and he will no longer be able to participate in public life as he used to.

Hanna had served as the director and director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo for 42 years before he announced his retirement last year.

Hanna hosted several popular televisions shows including Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures, Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild and Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown. He became a regular on shows like Good Morning America, Larry King Live and late night television with his unique and informative live animal demonstrations.

He was born in Knoxville on January 2, 1947. He attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio where he met his wife, Suzi. After college the couple moved back to Knoxville and started a pet store before joining the Central Florida Zoo.

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