Hanna to step down as director emeritus at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Jack Hanna, with his wife Suzi, announced he will step down from his public role as director...
Jack Hanna, with his wife Suzi, announced he will step down from his public role as director emeritus at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium at the end of the year. (WTVG)
Published: Jun. 11, 2020 at 1:10 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The name synonymous with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is ending his tenure as the director emeritus of the zoo.

Jack Hanna, who has been at the zoo since 1978, announced he will retire at the end of 2020.

“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," Hanna said. "Together with many friends and partners, we’ve come a long way to make the world a better place for people and wildlife.”

Hanna became the zoo's director in 1978 and in 1992 was named the zoo's director emeritus. Before Hanna took the position, the Columbus Zoo was little known, and he has since helped lead it as one of the most successful and influential zoos in the world.

Hanna was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and attended an all-boys boarding school in Pennsylvania before going to Muskingum University in Ohio. He graduated from Muskingum in 1968.

Before coming to Columbus, Hanna and his wife, Suzi, opening a petting zoo and pet shop on his father's farm in Knoxville. From there, he worked for a wildlife adventure company small Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, from 1973 to 1975.

He has also appeared on international television shows, including David Letterman and Good Morning America. 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.

While Hanna 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.”

“Suzi and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the Central Ohio community and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium family," he said. "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!”

Tom Stalf, who became the Columbus Zoo President/CEO in 2012, said he proudly carries on the Zoo’s legacy of global and local wildlife conservation that Jack and Suzi Hanna built.