John Aspinall

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John Aspinall (died in 2000)

"Millionaire animal park owner John Aspinall has died aged 74 after a three-year battle against cancer.

"He is survived by his wife Sarah, two sons Damian and Bassa, daughter Amanda and two stepsons Jason and Amos Courage.

"John Aspinall's two great loves were wild animals and gambling. Fiercely critical of the human race, much of which he dismissed as a 'biomass', he used his betting profits to finance his zoos and protect endangered species.

"Born in 1926 the son of an Army officer, John Aspinall started gambling while a student at Oxford University. During the 1950s he ran an constantly-moving illegal gambling club mainly for his friends.

"In 1956 a successful betting coup allowed him to buy Howlett's, his Georgian mansion in Kent and, eventually, the home of the first of his two zoos...

"As much at home in Africa as in Britain, he was an honorary member of the Zulu tribe, a close friend of the Zulu chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi and a committed proponent of an independent Zulu nation.

"John Aspinall was an eccentric. A fierce critic of European federalism, he stood for his friend James Goldsmith's Referendum Party at the 1997 British General Election.

"His right-wing views on race and overpopulation were, for some, hard to stomach. But few doubt the sincerity of the love which this maverick environmentalist had for both the planet and its animals." [1]


  • Brian Masters, The Passion of John Aspinall (1989).


  • Malcolm Draper and Gerhard Maré, “Going in: The Garden of England's Gaming Zookeeper and Zululand,” Journal of Southern African Studies, 29 (2), 2003.

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Zoo keeper Aspinall dies, BBC, accessed June 12, 2010.