More commonly known for having his name plastered over casino news reports. Aspers owner, Damian Aspinall, is turning his attention away from the tables, to focus on the potential extinction of the Scottish wildcat, as he rolls out his plans to create a breeding program on the island of Carna.
Damian Aspinall is the owner of Aspers Casino, avid conservationist and son of the late millionaire and zoo owner John Aspinall, who died of cancer at the turn of the decade. So it should come as no surprise to learn that Aspinall Junior grew up classing bears, wolves and gorilla’s as his closest friends.
The animal lover is the figurehead behind The Aspinall Foundation and the purpose of the foundation can be gleaned from his own words: “Some say that putting animals first is crazy, we don’t. We see things differently, through their eyes. We are a world leader for successfully rearing and breeding endangered species. To think of our animals as prisoners without parole is unfair, because whenever we can, we send them back to the wild where they really belong. You may call it crazy, we call it the future.”
Aspinall’s latest project focuses on the Scottish wildcat. It is estimated that there are no more than 35 to 100 of them left in the wild, and they are at risk of extinction due to crossbreeding with other feral domestic cats. Aspinall has reached an agreement with Timothy Milward – the owner of an inhabited island called Carna – to use the base to launch a breeding plan that will one day see the Scottish wildcat returned to the wild, both on Carna and on the mainland.
“With the hybridization caused by hordes of feral domestic cats, the extinction of true wildcats in Scotland is imminent without immediate action,” Aspinall told the Sunday Times.
Damian’s father John was never far from the glare of the media spotlight. Not only was he a friend of the missing peer Lord Lucan, but he also saw five zookeepers killed by animals during his tenure, and in 1989 a young boy had his arm ripped off by a chimpanzee at his zoo in Port Lympne. John Aspinall always believed that his zookeepers should be able to enter the enclosures of his wild animals to bond with them, and won a high court case to allow them to continue to do so back in 1996.
Damian Aspinall is also no stranger to the spotlight. The casino owner has had relationships with supermodels Naomi Campbell and Elle MacPherson, and he uses the money brought in from his casino business to help the conservation of the animals he loves so dearly.