Jack Hanna, 74, has been diagnosed with dementia

Good Morning America’s beloved animal expert Jack Hanna, 74, has been diagnosed with dementia and can ‘no longer participate in public life’, his family shares

  • The family of Jack Hanna announced that he has been diagnosed with dementia
  • His three children revealed the 74-year-old wildlife expert may have Alzheimer’s
  • ‘Today, we reach out to share some personal Hanna Family news,’ a letter read
  • ‘Doctors have diagnosed our dad, Jack Hanna, with dementia now believed to be Alzheimer’s disease,’ it was added
  • It was also noted the dementia has moved quickly as he retreats from public life 
  • ‘His condition has progressed much faster in the last few months than any of us could have anticipated,’ the letter stated 
  • ‘Sadly, Dad is no longer able to participate in public life as he used to,’ it also said 
  • He started appeared on Good Morning America in the early 1980s
  • Hanna often melted the hearts of the audience as he brought live animals on set
  • The star kept his composure as the exotic animal often climbed on him
  • He was also seen on Entertainment Tonight, Larry King Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Hollywood Squares.

The family of respected animal expert Jack Hanna announced that he has been diagnosed with dementia.

In a letter shared on Wednesday, his three children revealed that the 74-year-old wildlife aficionado who was known for his khaki zookeepers clothing and Indiana Jones style brown leather hat may have Alzheimer’s disease.

Hanna was best known for bringing unusual animals on to the breakfast chat show Good Morning America as well as The Late Show With David Letterman.

Health update: The family of respected animal expert Jack Hanna announced that he has been diagnosed with dementia. In a letter shared on Wednesday, his three children revealed that the 74-year-old wildlife aficionado may have Alzheimer’s disease. Seen in 2017

Almost 30 years ago: His day job was as Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium; seen in 1992

His day job was as Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. 

‘Today, we reach out to share some personal Hanna Family news,’ his kids Kathaleen, Suzanne and Julie, said in a letter. 

‘Doctors have diagnosed our dad, Jack Hanna, with dementia now believed to be Alzheimer’s disease.’ 

Family time: Here is a photo from his Facebook page with his wife since 1968 Suzi Egli and their three daughters Kathaleen, Suzanne and Julie

Some very early days: The family also posted this image of Jack and his kids from the Seventies

The heartfelt note: The letter got right to the point and then shared some touching anecdotes about Jack

And his children added that the dementia has moved quickly.

WHAT IS DEMENTIA? 

Dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with your daily life. It isn’t a specific disease, but several different diseases may cause dementia.

Though dementia generally involves memory loss, memory loss has different causes. Having memory loss alone doesn’t mean you have dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of a progressive dementia in older adults, but there are a number of causes of dementia. Depending on the cause, some dementia symptoms may be reversible.

Information courtesy the Mayo Clinic 

‘His condition has progressed much faster in the last few months than any of us could have anticipated,’ the letter read. 

‘Sadly, Dad is no longer able to participate in public life as he used to, where people all over the world watched, learned and laughed alongside him.’

But the letter added: ‘While Dad’s health has deteriorated quickly, we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine through. 

‘And yes – he still wears his khakis at home.’

The Hanna family asked for privacy moving forward.

‘Which is ironic, given Dad’s love of interacting with people,’ they wrote. 

‘We are grateful that the many hearts he’s touched over the years are with him during this journey, which gives us strength.’

He started appeared on Good Morning America in the early 1980s, often melting the hearts of the audience as he brought live animals on set.

The star kept his composure as the exotic animals – which ranged from lizards to baby gorillas and young leopards – often climbed on him or ran off set creating momentary havoc.

He was also seen on Entertainment Tonight, Larry King Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Hollywood Squares.

Tough turn: ‘Today, we reach out to share some personal Hanna Family news,’ his kids said in a letter. ‘Doctors have diagnosed our dad, Jack Hanna, with dementia now believed to be Alzheimer’s disease.’ Seen with Katie Holmes on Good Morning America in 2017

Often he posed with celebrities such as Katie Holmes, Betty White and Drew Barrymore.

The letter shared by his family on Facebook also stated: ‘A passion for wildlife conservation and education has been at the core of who our dad is and everything he has accomplished with the help of so many. 

‘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 conservation efforts. 

Fast moving: And his children added that the dementia has moved quickly. Seen with Betty White in 2014

‘He’s always said, “You have to touch the heart to teach the mind.” 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.’ 

It was also noted that the children’s mother Suzi, who has been with Jack for 53 years, ‘continues to be his rock (and ours, too).’

The note also stated: ‘We have great respect and admiration for Mom as we move through not only this difficult time with Dad.’

It was then shared that daughter Julie has ‘life-long challenges from her childhood leukemia’ and she is currently recovering from ‘major surgery.’

Taking a break: ‘Sadly, Dad is no longer able to participate in public life as he used to, where people all over the world watched, learned and laughed alongside him,’ added his children; seen with Drew Barrymore in 2016 in Los Angeles

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