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Unlike other millionaires, 56-year-old British businessman and conservationist Damian Aspinall doesn’t like to buy flashy private jets or throw lavish parties on his yacht. He feels much more comfortable in nature. But even he was shocked by what happened when he went to Africa to locate one of the gorillas he had set free five years ago…

Image: DailyMail
Image: DailyMail

56-year-old Damian Aspinall became a millionaire on his own, since his father denied providing his son financial aid even though he was quite a rich businessman and zoo keeper. “I never had an inheritance. I never had a trust. My father never bought me a car, never bought me a flat. I was his son – get out there; do it on your own. But undoubtedly it’s made me what I am today,” Damian recalls.

Damian arranged a series of lucrative real estate-related affairs and now owns around 200 million pounds. His true passion isn’t investment though, but wild life since he’s other job is a conservatorship.

Damian runs the John Aspinall Foundation, which was originally set up by his father and breeds gorillas, returning them to the wild.

Image: Aspinall Foundation
Image: Aspinall Foundation

John Aspinall Foundation was born from the idea of John Aspinall setting up a zoo on his property. The Foundation oversees two zoos: Port Lympne Wild Animal Park and Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, England. Apart from running the zoos, the Foundation campaigns on a range of wildlife-related issues, like opposing Chinese moves to relax the rules regarding the trade in products made from tigers.

The tigers, however, pose a real threat to the Aspinalls’ zoos — five keepers were killed by animals, two by the same tiger within a matter of days of each other in 1980. “The first death, the keeper shut the tiger off, and then went in to clean the cage, but the tiger jumped the fence and killed him,” Aspinall would tell reporters years later, “They thought he had gone into the cage when the tiger was there, and couldn’t work out why. Before he died he’d scrawled the letter “F” and nobody knew what it was. A week later the other keeper went in and exactly the same thing happened. And it seems the first keeper was trying to write the word “fence.”

But the world mostly knows the Foundation for its connection to gorillas…

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Image: Island Breath
Image: Island Breath

Kwibi was one of more than 50 gorillas that Aspinall released into the wild in Africa. The two always had a special and tight bond. Damian treated Kwibi like his own son (Damian is the father of three daughters).

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