Tyger­berg Zoo’s Spence dies af­ter ill­ness

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - LYNNETTE JOHNS

TYGER­BERG Zoo owner John Spence died on Wed­nes­day af­ter a long ill­ness. He was 75.

His wife Lor­raine has been manag­ing the zoo since Spence took ill a few months ago. She said yes­ter­day she would con­tinue to man­age the zoo, which is ad­min­is­tered by a board of trustees.

Spence, who had bat­tled with di­a­betes and heart trou­ble for years, was ad­mit­ted to hospi­tal with a sep­tic leg. His wife said he died of heart fail­ure on Wed­nes­day. He was cre­mated yes­ter­day. Spence started the zoo in 1967 but left in 1971 to de­sign, build and di­rect High Noon, a sa­fari park in the Boland. He re­turned to run the Tyger­berg Zoo in 1977.

The Tyger­berg Zo­o­log­i­cal Preser­va­tion Trust and En­dan­gered Wildlife Breed­ing Cen­tre said Spence had been the first per­son to breed chee­tah in cap­tiv­ity in Africa and had pi­o­neered meth­ods for pre­serv­ing cap­tive chee­tah.

But Spence came in for flak over the years for the size of his en­clo­sures. Re­cently the SPCA said they were still con­cerned that the chimps were kept in a cage in­stead of an en­clo­sure.

Spence is sur­vived by his wife, three sons and six grand­chil­dren.

There will be a memo­rial ser­vice at the zoo at 4pm next Fri­day.

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