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Friday, 28 November 2014

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South Lakes Wild Animal Park boss tells his own story

THE rollercoaster life of one of Furness’ best-known characters is dramatically told in the autobiography of David Gill, owner of South Lakes Wild Animal Park.

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AUTOBIOGRAPHY: South Lakes Wild Animal Park owner David Gill. Inset, left, his book describes the violent attack Mr Gill suffered in 2007 at the hands of his partner’s estranged husband, Richard Creary

For the next three days, the Evening Mail will print exclusive extracts from the book, which goes on general release on Saturday.

Mr Gill, 50, opened the attraction, which he built on converted farmland, in 1994.

However, it is not only his work with the park and in conservation that has made him such a well-known figure in the area.

One of the book’s most dramatic passages describes the violent attack Mr Gill suffered in 2007 at the hands of his partner’s estranged husband, Richard Creary.

Creary, who was sentenced to five years in prison for the attack, broke into Mr Gill’s home in the wildlife park and stabbed him in the neck.

Mr Gill escaped when he ran bleeding and half-naked to a nearby house to raise the alarm.

However, amid the descriptions of his sometimes stormy personal life, it is Mr Gill’s love of animals that shines through most clearly.

As he writes himself: “To this day, all these years on, the only thing I’m interested in is animals.

“I do of course love being successful in business but it’s the animals that keep me enthused.

“If it weren’t for working with my animals, being able to talk to them, to be around them on a daily basis, I wouldn’t do it.”

The book details the hard work that went into building the wildlife park, as well as his efforts to save a kangaroo from drowning and his own lemurs from burning to death in a fire at the zoo.

It also tells the heartbreaking tale of how he had to kill his rhino Zimba with a rifle when the animal was horrifically injured at the park after escaping.

Today’s extract tells the harrowing story of Mr Gill’s near death experience at the hands of Richard Creary.

Tomorrow’s extract will cover Mr Gill’s love of animals and working at the park, while on Wednesday he will describe his conservation work in Indonesia.

Have your say

We visited South Lakes in September 2012 travelling from Aberdeen. It was worth the journey and we Intend on returning this year. Mr Gill has done a fantastic job with the park and made this a very memorable weekend for our family. Having visited many nature reserves including Singapore Zoo and several in the United States this surpassed our expectations and well worth the fuel costs of travelling! Wishing the park all the success in the future and looking forward to our return visit.

Posted by Michelle on 19 March 2013 at 21:44

Come on people are you so small minded that you think a small poxy animal park is the only thing to do around here?. Get off your backsides. There is loads to do that cost nothing. As for the people slating dalton get a life no one cares. The zoo has done nothing for the town and you would think it employed 1000 the way some people say its created so meny jobs and brought so much money to the area. COME ON PEOPLE WAKE UP AND GET A LIFE...

Posted by ken on 29 May 2012 at 16:49

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