in , ,

Because of advanced Alzheimer’s, famed zookeeper Jack Hanna can’t remember most of his family: ‘Real Hard Some Days’

According to his spouse, Jack Hanna, the flamboyant zoologist and television personality who rose to national prominence as the director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, is in an “advanced” stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

Hanna, 76, was diagnosed in October of this year. According to his wife Suzi and daughters Kathaleen, Suzanne, and Julie, his condition has progressed from moderate to advanced. Today, Hanna recalls just his wife, his dog Brassy, and his oldest daughter Kathaleen.

The Jack that people knew isn’t here anymore, but pieces of her husband are, Suzi, who has been married to Hanna since 1968, told the Dispatch. And she is going to hang onto them for as long as she can.

He just stopped remembering who she was in all ways, Suzanne said. He had no clue she was his daughter, whether in person or over the phone. She believes her dad didn’t see her as much since she married so young and moved away.

Hanna, who became a talk show guest star with his pet animals, was a regular on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman during their heydays. His regimen these days consists mostly of a slew of pills and a late-morning, two-mile walk with Suzi, which she appreciates since it provides her with a feeling of normality with her spouse.

She wishes to enjoy these walks for as long as she can, Suzi added. She recalls the day it all officially began. The day the doctor informed us of the problem. Since then, she has only tried to hold on to the shards of Jack.

Her husband is still in there somewhere, Suzi speculated. There are still those sweet, tender times—those bits and pieces of him that made her and the rest of the world fall in love with him. It’s difficult. Some days are quite difficult. But he looked after her all those years, and now it’s her responsibility to look after him.

From 1978 through 1992, Hanna, commonly known as “Jungle Jack,” was the director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. He will formally retire from conservation work in late 2020. Kathaleen sobbed as she remembered how tough it was for her parents to give up their lives while first concealing Hanna’s Alzheimer’s disease from the world.

He would have worked until he died. He only retired because of Alzheimer’s, Kathaleen said. It made him feel embarrassed. He was terrified that the public would find out.

Kathleen said it’s vital for other families struggling with Alzheimer’s to know they’re not alone now that the family is sharing more facts about Hanna’s health, since the illness can be daunting for everyone involved.

If this helps even one other family, it’s more than worth sharing dad’s story, she added. He spent his entire life helping everyone he could. He’ll never comprehend or know what he’s doing, but he’s still doing it.

Suzi told the source that while Hanna’s condition continues to wreak havoc on him, she declines to let home health care specialists to come and support her when her children are unable. Knowing she doesn’t know how much longer she has with Hanna, she tries to live in the now rather than worry about the tough days ahead.

She only desires it to be her dad, and she will do it for as long as she can, Suzi said to her girls.

The river, the sun, Brassy, their walks—that’s all they’ve got, she said.

In an April 2021 letter that the Columbus Zoo posted on social media, Hanna’s children first disclosed their father’s condition. His condition has progressed much faster in the last few months than any of them could have expected, the doctors said at the time. Sadly, Dad is no longer able to participate in public life as he used to, where individuals from all over the world watched, learned, and laughed alongside him.

We are saddened by the latest news of Jungle Jack's dementia diagnosis, now believed to be Alzheimer's disease, and…

Posted by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Hanna earned the Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award for his conservation efforts at the Los Angeles Zoo’s annual Beastly Ball in May 2018: A dedication to wildlife conservation and education has been at the core of who their dad is and everything he achieved with the help of so many, Hanna’s children stated in their letter. He has dedicated his life to connecting humans with wildlife, as he has always believed that allowing individuals to see and interact with animals is critical to engaging them in more effective conservation efforts. Even though Dad is no longer able to travel and work in the same way, they believe that his contagious passion has touched many hearts and will continue to be his legacy.

Share this with your friends by clicking below!

Inside the deepest ocean rescue mission in history, as the race to discover and save the Titanic sub continues.

According to court documents, Kevin Costner’s estranged wife, Christine, is asking for $248K a month in child support.