Tygerberg Zoo’s Spence dies after illness
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.