Columbus Zoo's Jack Hanna plans to retire at age 73

Mike Wagner
mwagner@dispatch.com
A bush baby jumps onto Jack Hanna as he records a TV segment with the help of animal programs specialist Katie Stevens and CBS video crew members Jimmy Kimmons (left) and Justin Hall beside the Africa exhibit at the the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium on May 29, 2018. Hanna, 73, is retiring as the zoo's director.

John “Jack” Hanna, the boy from Tennessee known for his love of animals, khaki attire and the ability to charm everyone he encounters, is retiring after transforming Columbus’ dilapidated zoo into one of the world’s best.

Hanna, 73, will officially step away from his work with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium at the end of this year after being hired as its director 42 years ago. The father of three and grandfather of six will keep the zoo’s director-emeritus title he has had since 1992. 

“The zoo has been our life, and we want to thank everyone in Columbus, Central Ohio and all the folks who helped build it into something so special,” Jack said. “I could stay at the zoo until my last days. And any time the zoo needs anything, all they have to do is ask and I’ll be there. But I am 73 now, and my grandkids are getting older. Some are getting married. I can’t keep up with all of them. I want to share the years we have left with my kids and grandkids.”

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mwagner@dispatch.com

@MikeWagner48