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Posted 6th July

 A Menagerie In Belgravia

 John Aspinall was a gambler and casino-owner, and close friends with the notorious Lord Lucan. He also considered Jimmy Goldsmith (married to “Annabel” who had a Mayfair Nightclub named after her) as one of his best friends. However, he appeared to be more devoted to animals than humans.

 This love affair began (1956) when he purchased a pitiful capuchin monkey from a pet shop in Regent’s Park, which he named Dheddi, meaning ‘dead loss’. Aspinall and his wife Jane Hastings, installed the monkey at their flat

in Eaton Place.  Shortly after, a nine-week-old tigress and two Himalayan bears joined the little monkey.

 As a result of complaints from neighbours, Aspinall decided to purchase a more suitable property in Kent, where he could house his Menagerie (1957). Aspinall gradually accumulated an impressive collection of Indian elephants rescued from a life of hardship, lynxes, tapirs, gorillas, tigers and monkeys as playmates for ‘Dheddi’ – who past away in1991.

The Aspinall Foundation was founded in1984 as a non-profit organisation dedicated to the protection and preservation of rare and endangered species.

 Damian Aspinall has continued to run the Foundation since his father’s death in 2000.    

View image | gettyimages.com

Story inspired by an extract featured in The Daily Telegraph, July 5th 2015

My Animals and other Family by Mick Brown

A Photographic Celebration of the Aspinall Foundation and Family, published to mark the 30th anniversary of the Aspinall Foundation,  aspinallfoundation.orglgift-shop