Aspinall defends tiger-death zoo
Friday 17 February 1995
"I can't promise that there won't be another accident - how can I?" he told an inquest at Canterbury, Kent.
"But we will try to reduce the odds. We will keep the ethos and spirit of the place at the same time. We don't want to abandon that. We don't want another boring zoo where the keepers just become jailers and functionaries rather than companions."
The jury of seven men and three women returned an accidental death verdict on Mr Smith, 32, of Goodneston, near Canterbury. The inquest heard that Mr Smith would have died instantly from a broken neck after being bitten by a two-and-a-half-year-old Siberian tiger, Balkash, at Howletts Zoo, near Canterbury.
Mr Aspinall, 68, who gave his address as Howletts Zoo, was questioned by Roy Warne, counsel for Mr Smith's widow, Debbie, 22, about the risks faced by keepers going alone into the tigers' enclosures.
He said: "We live in a dangerous world. Everyone gambles with their lives all the time. Going in with tigers is not as risky as it seems." Mr Aspinall added: "If you go to a football match, you gamble."
He himself had been alone with tigers many times over the years, although now he was getting older and weaker he preferred to have his head keeper with him. He had 25 tigers at Howletts and nearly as many at his other zoo at Port Lympne near Hythe, Kent.
The death of Mr Smith was "a great disaster for us", but it was the first tragedy of its kind, he said. The tiger had killed two keepers in 1983 but had scrambled over high fences to reach them. Mr Aspinall said he had run Howletts for 37 years and Port Lympne for 22 years. "We are pioneers in the work of building friendship between the mammals and ourselves."
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
'This is what Islam tells us to do': A rare glimpse inside a Saudi Arabian prison – where Isis terrorists are showered with perks and privileges
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
this is an unpaid voluntary position: Circles South East Youth Service: LOOKIN...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading privately owned sp...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is require...
£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest supplier to the UK'...