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Abolish the zoos!

 
 
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  #1
Abolish the zoos!
Old 22-07-2013

ONE of Britain’s most famous wildlife park owners has called on the Government to help him realise his long-term dream – to abolish all zoos.

'We need to abolish all zoos', says Britain's most famous zoo owner Damian Aspinall | UK | News | Daily Express
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  #2
Old 22-07-2013

Mr Aspinall has been following this line for a while - see our discussions in the thread for Port Lympne. While I have some sympathy with his views, he goes way over the top with his comments about other zoos.
Of course the Daily GetsMuchWorse ((c) Private Eye magazine) gets things wrong and exaggerates - however famous he is, he doesn't own the parks: he is merely one of the trustees of the Aspinall Trust and he rents the mansion at Howletts from the Trust.
In spite of his remarks about education, he fails to mention that the Charitable Objects of the Trust include "EDUCATION AND USEFUL KNOWLEDGE IN RELATION TO THE SCIENCE OF ZOOLOGY, THE PRESERVATION AND EXHIBITION OF LIVING ANIMALS" (quoted from the Aspinall Trust section of the Charity Commission website).
Most zoos with charitable status in the UK have similar Charitable Objects.
These zoos do not exist merely for the purpose of conservation - to state otherwise is either wilful ignorance, hypocrisy or deliberate disinformation.

Alan
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Last edited by gentle lemur; 22-07-2013 at 07:33 AM.. Reason: clarification
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  #3
Old 23-07-2013

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Originally Posted by gentle lemur View Post
Mr Aspinall has been following this line for a while - see our discussions in the thread for Port Lympne. While I have some sympathy with his views, he goes way over the top with his comments about other zoos.
Of course the Daily GetsMuchWorse ((c) Private Eye magazine) gets things wrong and exaggerates - however famous he is, he doesn't own the parks: he is merely one of the trustees of the Aspinall Trust and he rents the mansion at Howletts from the Trust.
Alan
Hi, I have just written a blog post about this subject...can you tell me what you mean by him not owning the zoos, and you sympathizing with his views? What did the article get wrong exactly? I was under the impression that he started or inherited the zoos, and had control over them. Let me know if there is any factually incorrect information in the post, please.

http://captiveanimallogic.blogspot.com/
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  #4
Old 23-07-2013

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Originally Posted by Buggle View Post
Hi, I have just written a blog post about this subject...can you tell me what you mean by him not owning the zoos, and you sympathizing with his views? What did the article get wrong exactly? I was under the impression that he started or inherited the zoos, and had control over them. Let me know if there is any factually incorrect information in the post, please.
The Aspinall Foundation is registered charity number 326567, regulated by the Charity Commission (for England & Wales). Most of the other zoo large zoos in the UK are also owned and run by charitable trusts (eg ZSL for London & Whipsnade, North of England Zoological Society for Chester etc).
They are all not-for-profit organisations, which have charitable objects (in other words, aim to do good). This means that they are allowed to raise money for charitable purposes, without paying all the taxes that a business would pay. For example when you pay for admission to one of these zoos, you will be asked if you pay UK income tax; if you do, you will be asked (nicely) to make this payment into a gift-aid donation, which means that the zoo can claim back the income tax which you paid on this sum of money. Commercial organisations like Chessington or the Sealife aquaria which exist to make money for their shareholders cannot do this.
To qualify as a registered charity, these organisations need to meet the legal requirements of the Charity Commission: stating the Charitable Objects and names of the Trustees who are legally responsible for running the Trust, filing accounts which show what the Trust is doing and so on. These details are available on the Commissions website Home - Charity Commission
The late John Asinall started out by keeping an exotic pet (a bear, if I remember correctly) but eventually he had a large private collection of animals in the grounds of his mansion at Howletts, which then expanded to a second estate at Port Lympne. Howletts was opened to the public in the 1970s and the charitable trust was established in 1984. From that time the trust has officially owned the collections: members of the Aspinall family have served as trustees, together with other like-minded and responsible people. There are currently six trustees including Damian Aspinall and Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP who has an interest in environmental and conservation issues; he is the son of the late financier and political activist Sir James Goldsmith who was a friend of John Aspinall.
Mr Aspinall is also a trustee of the Howletts Wild Animal Trust (registered charity 1100845) which has very similar Charitable Objects.

So the Express was wrong in describing him as the owner of the parks. Is he famous? "Up to a point, Lord Copper". Is he Britain's most famous zoo 'owner'? I bet David Gill would contest that and I would nominate Ben Mee for this dubious honour.

I sympathise with Mr Aspinall's views to the extent that I am in favour of reintroducing zoo animals to the wild in properly controlled circumstances (and as far as I can see that is true of the Aspinall Foundation's schemes) and I do believe that zoos would be very different in an ideal world. Unfortunately this world is far from ideal and our zoos are far from ideal, even less fortunately I believe that Mr Aspinall's intemperate remarks are likely to make zoos worse by belittling their efforts to interest and educate the public. Like his father, he seems to believe that being outspoken and controversial will generate respect for his views. He runs the risk of being thought as elitist and egotistical as his father was.

I think the comments in your blog are generally fair and I agree with most of them. The only part I think you should amend is the reference to the deaths of the keepers at Howletts: these all happened during John Aspinall's lifetime (as your reference makes clear) and I feel it is unreasonable to associate these tragedies with Damian Aspinall.

Alan
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Last edited by gentle lemur; 23-07-2013 at 08:31 PM.. Reason: correction
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  #5
Old 23-07-2013

How seriously is Damian Aspinall taken in England?

Are his views likely to have any impact on public support and thinking on the role of zoos, or is it more like when Donald Trump says something and people just roll their eyes and think "there he goes again"?
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  #6
Old 23-07-2013

Thanks for all that information! This is why I don't really like writing about issues outside my country, I always get confused about what's going on. I'll change that part about it being Damian Aspinall's fault (its more that of John's original policies I see). I'm now still not clear if Damian supports the zoos of which he is a trustee, given his outrageous comments. His zoos are engaged with some great enrichment classes. I'm still just shaken by the arrogance one would need to possess to try and convince the government to end zoos for everyone else. Conservation and awareness is an eternal ongoing process that will not be 'phased out in 20-30 years'.
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  #7
Old 23-07-2013

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Originally Posted by gentle lemur View Post
This means that they are allowed to raise money for charitable purposes, with paying the taxes that a business would pay.
Shouldn't that read without?

Otherwise great summary of the situation.
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  #8
Old 23-07-2013

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Originally Posted by Shorts View Post
Shouldn't that read without?
Yes! Thank you, I have corrected this.
It's always harder to proof-read your own work

Aalan
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  #9
Old 23-07-2013

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Originally Posted by gentle lemur View Post
Yes! Thank you, I have corrected this.
It's always harder to proof-read your own work

Aalan
It's always harder to proof-read your own name, it seems!
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  #10
Old 23-07-2013

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Originally Posted by TeaLovingDave View Post
It's always harder to proof-read your own name, it seems!
I'm 99% certain he was joking there.

He's right though, proof reading is hard (especially your own).
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  #11
Old 23-07-2013

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Originally Posted by Shorts View Post
I'm 99% certain he was joking there.

He's right though, proof reading is hard (especially your own).
As am I, considering he correctly capitalised one A and left the other a in lower case

I'm terrible at proof-reading too, considering my tendency towards purple prose! My writing style is allegedly recognisable enough that Javan Rhino has tested Agile Gibbon on the identity of who has written various comments on Facebook, and she immediately knew which comment had been said by myself
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  #12
Old 23-07-2013

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Originally Posted by DavidBrown View Post
How seriously is Damian Aspinall taken in England?

Are his views likely to have any impact on public support and thinking on the role of zoos, or is it more like when Donald Trump says something and people just roll their eyes and think "there he goes again"?
Difficult to evaluate.

He is not widely recognised in quite the same way his father was, as the 'eccentric millionaire Zookeeper', as the Press used to describe him. He does have very much the same sort of Maverick approach but I am not sure he is such a well-known figure with the general public-I don't think he is.

His continual pronouncements about the abolition of Zoos etc always seem to me to be at odds with the fact that 'his' own parks are nowadays routinely involved in trades/exchanges with other zoos, something they need to do sometimes to facilitate their own breeding programmes, and while 'animals (may) come first' there, public admission to the parks really makes them not much different to other wildlife collections.

Their relocation/repatriation schemes of animals to wild environments are highly laudable, including the recent, much publicised one of a whole Gorilla group, but he doesn't mention its something other zoos have also co-operated together with a number of other species too.

So IMO on the above counts, his blanket critisism of all other Zoos seems rather strange, while realistically he will never be able to release all the animals his own parks hold either- just a certain percentage of them. What happens to all the rest?
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  #13
Old 24-07-2013

I do wonder if he isn't having a midlife crisis. It's easy to forget, but he's now turned 50. Quite what is the long term future plan for the two parks would be interesting to know.
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  #14
Old 24-07-2013

In the article, Mr. Aspinall says, "They always throw education back at you though, but that’s total and utter nonsense." I completely disagree.

I feel that zoos have at least three roles: conservation, education, and entertainment, and all three are valid. I am cynical by nature, and I question the effectiveness of most zoo education programs, but it is clear is that zoos generate interest in animals. Sometimes that blooms into interest in conservation and the environment.

Simply put, most people don't care about saving things that don't interest them. The more we expose them to animals, nature, and the environment, the more likely they are to support efforts to save these things.
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  #15
Old 24-07-2013

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Originally Posted by gentle lemur View Post
Aalan
Not joke

Typo

aAlan

(but that is )
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