COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 29 (UPI) -- Jeff Swanagan, executive director of Ohio's Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, died of a heart attack at the age of 51, his wife Suzy Holley says.
The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch said Monday that Swanagan died Sunday in Muirfield Village, Ohio, more than a year after the zoo's board tabbed him to serve as the tourist site's newest executive director.
Jack Hanna, who was serving as zoo director when Swanagan originally joined the zoo staff in 1980, said he was planning on returning to Columbus following Swanagan's death.
"Right now, I'm in a state of shock. I'm jumping on a plane in Montana to get home," Hanna told the Dispatch. "It's just awful news."
Swanagan previously had worked as the executive director for Georgia Aquarium Inc. and had helped with the addition of a $290 million aquarium.
During his time with the Columbus Zoo, Swanagan helped develop the Jungle Jack's Landing and Zoombezi Bay attractions.
The Dispatch said Swanagan is survived by his wife and five children.