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Jack Hanna Announces Retirement from the Columbus Zoo

Susan Post Susan Post Jack Hanna Announces Retirement from the Columbus ZooImage via Becker1999 on Flickr
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After serving as both director and director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium for 42 years, Jungle Jack Hanna will retired on December 31, 2020.

“Out of respect for the many people whose lives the Hannas have touched, this news is being shared now to give the community ample time throughout the rest of the year to celebrate and thank Jack and Suzi,” a press release from the zoo announcing the retirement said. “Jack’s career and leadership transformed the Zoo and set it on the course to be one of the world’s most successful and influential zoos.”

Under Hanna’s direction, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium has consistently been ranked as one of the best in the nation.

Hanna joined the zoo team as director in 1978 and served in the role until 1992 before becoming director emeritus – a title he’ll retain post-retirement. He’ll be stepping back from a public role and official duties to spend more time with his family.

“Suzi and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the Central Ohio community and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium family,” Hanna said in a press release. “Our 42 years at the Columbus Zoo have been the best of our lives—we’ve raised our daughters here and had the honor of revitalizing our Zoo alongside a great team while being advocates for wildlife worldwide. We look forward to supporting the Columbus Zoo for many years to come—while taking some much needed down time with our family along the way!”

Throughout his career, Hanna has authored numerous books, hosted and appeared on several televisions series and become the media’s “go-to” wildlife correspondent.

“Jack has inspired many people to learn and care about a variety of species around the world, resulting in positive impacts on wildlife and wild places,” said Columbus Zoo President & CEO Tom Stalf. “For Jack, that is the best legacy of all. I’m grateful to Jack for giving me and so many others the opportunity and vision to focus on conservation, animal welfare and people. The Columbus Zoo will always be the home of Jack Hanna. Thanks to the impact he has made on all of us, we continue to work to ‘touch the heart to teach the mind’ as we fulfill our mission to ‘lead and inspire by connecting people and wildlife.’”

Hanna will get to see a new exhibit bearing his name open before retiring. Jack Hanna’s Animal Encounters Village is scheduled for a summer 2020 debut. The new area will allow zoo-goers to observe behavioral demonstrations with animals, learn from zoo educators and experience one-on-one animal encounters. The zoo says that the Animal Encounters Village “will serve as the physical representation of Jack’s educational philosophy and his genuine enthusiasm for connecting people and wildlife.” It will open alongside Adventure Cove, which will bring sea lions back to the zoo and introduce harbor seals for the first time.

Upcoming special events at the zoo will also honor Hanna’s legacy. Jack Hanna Weekend is slated for October 3-4 and Jack Hanna’s Home for the Holidays is scheduled for December 12, with details to be announced on the zoo’s website.

For more information, visit columbuszoo.org/home.

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