An­i­mal ex­pert and pi­o­neer dies aged 75

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FAMILY ANNOUNCEMENTS -

AN­I­MAL ex­pert and sa­fari park pi­o­neer Mike Lockyer has died.

Mr Lockyer, 75, worked with an­i­mals for al­most half a cen­tury and re­tired as zoo­log­i­cal di­rec­tor at Port Lympne and Howletts wild an­i­mal parks two years ago.

A part­ner­ship with for­mer cir­cus owner Jimmy Chip­per­field saw Mr Lockyer help Lord Bath set up the world’s first sa­fari park out­side Africa at Lon­gleat in Wilt­shire.

He joined Howletts and Port Lympne in 1984 and ran suc­cess­ful breed­ing pro­grammes across many species.

His close per­sonal con­tact with the an­i­mals, par­tic­u­larly big cats, was a con­stant fea­ture of his ca­reer de­spite the loss of two tiger keep­ers and an ele­phant keeper in his 23 years with the parks.

Port Lympne spokesman Veron­ica Chrisp said: “Mike was a long-time friend of John Aspinall and to all here at the parks and to many oth­ers around the world, par­tic­u­larly in the zoo world.

En­cy­clopaedic

“Mike was a mine of in­for­ma­tion and we will all strug­gle with­out his en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge and en­cour­age­ment.”

Mr Lockyer also worked with an­i­mals on films in­clud­ing the 1966 clas­sic star­ring Raquel Welch, One Mil­lion Years BC.

His television cred­its in­cluded An­i­mal Magic in the 1960s and 1970s and catch­ing gi­raffes and ele­phants in Africa for The Catch­ing Game.

Mr Lockyer’s ashes were buried un­der­neath the lion en­clo­sure at Port Lympne.

He leaves a widow, Toni, three stepchil­dren, three sis­ters and one brother.

Zoo­log­i­cal di­rec­tor Mike Lockyer has died

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