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Jungle Jack Hanna To Retire From Columbus Zoo

Jack Hanna, right, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and Make-A-Wish child Anna, 11, watch a polar bear dive for fish during her day as a zookeeper Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 in Columbus.
Jay LaPrete
/
AP for Macys
Jack Hanna, right, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and Make-A-Wish child Anna, 11, watch a polar bear dive for fish during her day as a zookeeper Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 in Columbus.

“Jungle” Jack Hanna is retiring from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

He came to Columbus more than 40 years ago and built the zoo into one of the most prominent institutions of its kind in the world, raising its profile as he traveled the globe advocating for animals and wildlife conservation.

“Zoos today are nothing like when I first started, when it was all caging. These places where they live now are kind of like what places are in the wild,” he says.

In 1992, he was named the zoo's director emeritus. Though he'll keep the title, he says he's retiring from that work to spend more time with his grandchildren. Though this parting is more final, he says he'll still be back to visit.

"I could never stay away from the Columbus Zoo. There's no way I could do that. They want me to come in, I'd love to be honored to come in," he says.

His work concludes at the end of this year.