TV wildlife expert Jack Hanna has ‘advanced’ Alzheimer’s disease and can’t remember most of his family, his wife Suzi Hanna has revealed.
“The people Jack knew are no longer here, but pieces of my husband are,” she said Columbus’ dispatch. “And I will hang on to them as long as I can.
“My husband is still out there somewhere. There are still those sweet, tender moments. You know, bits of him that made me and the rest of the world fall in love with him.”
She admitted that looking after him is “very hard some days”, but they still take daily two-mile walks and try to maintain as much normality as possible.
1. I said hello @DispatchAlerts in our home for a real look at life with Alzheimer’s disease. While Dad/Jack is still mobile, his mind fails him, the light in his eyes has gone out, and we miss who he was every moment of the day. https://t.co/ssU7hE2W7r
— Jack Hanna (@JungleJackHanna) June 21, 2023
The 76-year-old star was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in October 2019. He stepped down as director emeritus of Ohio’s Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in December 2020, having worked at the zoo since 1978. Family members and revealed the health issues in April 2021, saying the beloved zookeeper was stepping away from public life.
He has been married for 54 years and has three daughters, Kathaleen, Suzanne and Julie. Wife Suzi said Hanna struggles to remember anyone but herself, his dog Brassy and occasionally his eldest daughter Kathaleen.
“He stopped remembering who I was in every way. Whether it was in person or on the phone, he had no idea I was his daughter,” Suzanne told The Columbus Dispatch. “I think it’s because he hasn’t seen me that much because I got married so young and moved away.”
Hanna is known for his TV series Animal Adventures, Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild and Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown. He was also a frequent guest on the Today Show, Late Show With David Letterman and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
“He would have worked until the day he died,” Kathaleen said. “He retired only because of Alzheimer’s disease. He was ashamed of it. He lived in fear that the public would find out.”
Despite her husband’s health battles, Suzi said she is not looking to hire help and that she and the family will continue to cherish their time with him.
“The river, the sun, Brassy, our walks. That’s all we have left.”