The Belgravia Society
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.
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