Jack Hanna, the beloved former director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, has reportedly been diagnosed with dementia, and he’s retiring from public life. This was announced on Wednesday by his three daughters, who believe that his disease has already progressed to Alzheimer’s disease.

Hanna’s daughters Kathaleen, Suzanne and Julie posted a statement to the 74 year-old’s Twitter account saying that the disease has progressed much faster over the past few months than they ever could have anticipated, and that he is now no longer able to participate in public life as he used to. Entertainment Tonight reported that Hanna became the director of the Columbus Zoo in 1978 and quickly became known for his popular weekly TV programs like “Animal Adventures,” “Into the Wild” and “Wild Countdown.”

Though he left his position of director of the Columbus Zoo in 1992, he was still a spokesman for the zoo until last year, when he retired.

“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,” read the family’s statement. “He 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. … 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.”

“While Dad’s health has deteriorated quickly, we can assure you that his great sense of humor continues to shine through,” Hanna’s daughters added. “And yes — he still wears his khakis at home.”

They went on to add that Hanna’s beloved wife Suzi “continues to be his rock (and ours, too). We have great respect and admiration for Mom as we move through…this difficult time with Dad.”

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has since released a statement as well talking about how important Hanna is to the state.

“Over the years, Fran and I have had the opportunity to take our kids and grandkids to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds. When we were there with Jack, we were so fortunate to experience his passion for animals and the natural world,” DeWine said. “Along with our fellow Ohioans, we wish Jack, Suzi, and their daughters our best as they navigate the challenges of this disease and will be keeping them in our prayers.”

This piece originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.

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