Jack Hanna’s love for animals has deep roots in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — Famous Zookeeper and Tennessee native, Jack Hanna, will retire from public life.

That announcement came Tuesday in a social media post by Hanna’s family. Hanna was recently given a dementia diagnosis. His family said the 74-year-old’s condition has deteriorated in the last few months.

Hanna, also known as “Jungle Jack,” retired at the end of last year. He spent 42 years at the Columbus Ohio Zoo and Aquarium.

The celebrity has deep roots in Tennessee. He was born in Knoxville. He has frequently talked about how he grew up in this state learning to love animals. “We lived on a farm there. We had two farms, so I’ve grown up with animals all my life, raising animals,” Hanna said in a News 2 interview from 2018.

In 2018, Hanna visited Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. The zoo was in the process of building a new veterinary hospital. Hanna said, “I’m going to say it’s going to be one of the finest in the world. I’m not trying to sit here because I’m here in Nashville, I would tell you what I thought, that’s how I am. When I saw that hospital being built, it has everything and beyond. We just built our new hospital, it’s a magnificent hospital, but this one will grow with him. If you don’t have the animals health, you don’t have the animals.”

Hanna was renowned for his creative and live animal demonstrations on programs like Good Morning America. He also hosted several wildly popular TV shows including Jack Hanna’s Animal AdventuresJack Hanna’s Into the Wild and Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown.

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