COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Jungle Jack Hanna has officially retired from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Hanna has called the Columbus Zoo home since 1978, serving as both director and director emeritus over his 42 years in Central Ohio.
Jack’s last day was Thursday.
“As I approach my mid-70s with more than four decades at the Columbus Zoo, I believe it is time to wind down and officially step back while CEO Tom Stalf and the Zoo’s great leadership team continue to guide the Zoo into the future. Together with many friends and partners, we’ve come a long way to make the world a better place for people and wildlife!” said Jack.
Jack first arrived in Ohio in 1965 to attend Muskingum University—always the animal lover, he even brought his pet donkey with him to live in the fraternity house. While at Muskingum, Jack met his wife, Suzi, and they married in 1968.
Just 10 years later, Jack was asked to serve as director of a little-known zoo in Columbus, Ohio. The Hannas never anticipated the adventures ahead but, together, they were perfectly positioned to lead the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the entire zoological world into the 21st century.
Jack served as the Columbus Zoo’s director from 1978 to 1992 before becoming Director Emeritus. He has authored 15 books, hosted several televisions series, has been the media’s “go to” wildlife correspondent and permeated pop culture while sharing amazing animals with audiences nationwide. He is beloved by his wife, daughters, grandchildren, the zoo community and millions around the world, whose hearts he has touched with his genuine enthusiasm, superhuman energy and passion for making a difference for wildlife.
While Jack will be stepping back from a public role and official duties to spend more time with his family, he will retain the title “director emeritus” and he maintains that he will always be the Zoo’s #1 fan.