Damian Aspinall

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John Damian Androcles Aspinall
Born (1960-05-24) 24 May 1960 (age 58)
Nationality British
Occupation Businessman and Conservationist
Notable work Raising and releasing several zoo-bred lowland gorillas

Louise Sebag- Montefiore (m.1987-2002)

Victoria Fisher (m. 2016)
Children Three
Mansion at Port Lympne designed by Herbert Baker

John Damian Androcles Aspinall (born 24 May 1960) is an English businessman and conservationist, notable for his raising and release of a number of a zoo-bred lowland gorillas in Gabon.

Early life[edit]

Aspinall is the son of Jane Gordon Hastings and John Victor Aspinall (d.2000) who was a zoo owner, gambler, founder of Aspers, conservationist and the stepson of Sir George Osborne, 16th Baronet. Damian's step-mother is Lady Sarah Aspinall; in 1972, his father had married, (for the third time), Lady Sarah ("Sally") Courage, widow of the racing driver Piers Courage and daughter of Francis Curzon, 5th Earl Howe (d.1964).[1] From the age of six, Damian Aspinall was educated, as a boarder, at Millfield School, Somerset.[2]


Aspinall's wealth is estimated to be around £200m. Aspinall acquired his wealth independently in the real estate business - his father refusing to assist him financially. After his father's death in 2000, Damian bought back the family casino interests with the help of Australian associate James Packer, son of Kerry Packer.[3][4]

He runs the John Aspinall Foundation started by his father, and his stated goal is to breed gorillas and return them to the wild. He manages Howletts Wild Animal Park and nearby Port Lympne, where 120 gorillas have been born and 77 presently live. The foundation has released 51 gorillas to secure areas in Africa.[5] Several of them have been found dead, possibly due to having been primed to humans and being unable to care for themselves in the wild and attacks by other gorillas. Critics, among them the president of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, have commented that this outcome was predictable.[6][7]

Richie, the celebrity gorilla released when 5 years old in 2005 in Gabon, had been born and raised at Howletts, a wild animal park in Kent. Aspinall tracked Richie in 2010 and the video of the reunion became widely viewed on YouTube.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Damian Aspinall was married for 15 years from July 1987. His wife was Louise Elizabeth Julia Sebag-Montefiore (b. 31 July 1962), the daughter of Peter Geoffrey Edmund Nathaniel Sebag-Montefiore, who was the great grandson of Sir Joseph Sebag-Montefiore (d.1903), and Joanna Ethne Julia Poett, herself the daughter of General Sir Joseph Howard Nigel Poett (d.1991). Louise is the mother of two of Aspinall's daughters; Tansy (1989) and Clary (1992).[9][10][11][12]

After his divorce from Louise, Aspinall dated Kirsty Roper and Donna Air, the mother of his third daughter, Freya Air Aspinall (2003).[13]

In August 2016, Damian married Burberry employee Victoria Fisher (b.1986) at Villa Cetinale in Tuscany[14]


  1. ^ Ross, Rory (11 December 2003). "For the love of a dangerous man". The Telegraph. London, United Kingdom. Retrieved 16 January 2016. Lady Sarah Aspinall .. the daughter of Earl Howe... met John Aspinall in 1967... 
  2. ^ Cavendish, Lucy (10 November 2003). "Me, Donna and the gorillas". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 16 January 2016. He packed me off to Millfield to board when I was six and then never ... 
  3. ^ Business Times
  4. ^ Goodman, Matthew (8 August 2010). "Aspinalls wins casino bailout". The Sunday Times. 
  5. ^ Today
  6. ^ Jones, David (5 September 2014). "Damian Aspinall raised gorillas in Kent zoo but they were killed when returned to jungle". Daily Mail. 
  7. ^ "The Horrifying 60 Minutes Story Activists Beg You Not to See". Awesome Ocean. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  8. ^ YouTube; accessed 9 August 2015.
  9. ^ Peter Townend, editor, Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 18th edition, 3 volumes (London, England: Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1965-1972), volume 1, page 506.
  10. ^ Announcements, The Daily Mail, London, UK (20 July 2007).
  11. ^ Poett, General Sir Nigel (1991). Pure Poett: The Autobiography of General Sir Nigel Poett. London: Leo Cooper. ISBN 0-85052-339-7. ... daughter ...Joanna (Ethne Julia).. 
  12. ^ "Death of Sir Joseph Montefiore". The Advertiser. Adelaide, South Australia. 20 January 1903. 
  13. ^ "TV star's baby handed to gorillas". BBC News. 10 November 2003. 
  14. ^ "SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Damian weds his ex Donna's doppelganger". Mail Online. Retrieved 2016-10-21. 

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