Animal expert and pioneer dies aged 75
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.
“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