From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2000:
Ronald Lockley, 96, died on April 12 in Auckland, New Zealand. Lockley did his first nature study while recovering from appendicitis at age 19, but only began to make it his career after he and his first wife Doris tried to raise chinchillas for fur on an offshore island in 1926, failing because they couldn’t catch any. Stuck with a 21-year lease on the island, Lockley wrote the first three of his more than 60 successful nature books plus the screenplay for the 1934 Academy Award-winning documentary T h e Private Life of the Gannet. Lockley’s opus, however, was The Private Life of the Rabbit (1964), acknowledged by Richard Adams as the factual reference which enabled him to write his 1972 best-selling novel W a t e r s h i p Down. Lockley emigrated to New Zealand in 1977 with his third wife, after arranging for his former island home and an estate he later owned on the mainland to become nature reserves. Adams in later life became a curmudgeonly rabbit-hater, but Lockley was last in the public eye as an outspoken critic of the release of rabbit calicivirus to reduce the New Zealand feral rabbit population. It was needlessly cruel, he said, and would not lastingly lower the numbers of rabbits.
Elizabeth Holmes Long, 95, died on March 18. As a widowed former Ziegfeld Follies performer, Long moved to Westport, Connecticut, in 1942. She cofounded the Pet Animal Welfare Society of Connecticut in 1962, serving as secretary through 1992. She also helped to start the Westport Pound.
Luis Escala, 38, International Vegetarian Union regional secretary for Latin America, died on May 1 from meningitis. Escala was also founder of the activist group Trato Etico de los animales, and was active in the Association of Vegetarians of Ecuador.
Baroness Ziki Wharton, 66, a rare animal welfare crusader in the British House of Lords and vice president of the Royal SPCA since 1997, died on May 15 from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Her form of CJD was not the kind associated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Jakobus Joubert, 23, the first firefighter in Johannesburg, South Africa, to be killed on the job in more than a century, died on May 4 from injuries suffered in a fall from a tree 17 days earlier while trying to rescue a dove who was entangled in fishing line.
John C. Sawhill, 63, president of The Nature Conservancy since 1990, died on May 18 in Richmond, Virginia, from diabetes. An energy policy adviser to former U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Sawhill was president of New York University 1975-1979, and then served former U.S. president Jimmy Carter as deputy secretary of energy. He came to TNC after a decade in private enterprise. Sawhill nearly doubled TNC revenues and assets, tripled the TNC workforce, and doubled the donor base. His indifference toward animal suffering, however, produced clashes with The Fund for Animals and In Defense of Animals over feral livestock killing in the Channel Islands of California; with PETA over cruel snaring to kill feral goats and pigs in Hawaii; and with Voice for Wildlife over habitat destruction around Chicago undertaken to restore tallgrass prairie. The Humane Society of the U.S. founded the Wildlife Land Trust in 1994 to receive property from people who wish to leave land to wildlife under caveats prohibiting hunting, trapping, and fishing, which TNC refused to honor.
Harold Curtis “Red” Palmer, 85, died on May 14 in Douglasville, Georgia. As a patent medicine maker in Atlanta during the 1950s, Palmer was inspired to invent the tranquilizer gun after watching someone use a blowgun. “He got assistance from lots of people, with the chemicals as well as the gun and the dart, but it was his idea and he took it and ran with it,” his stepson-in-law Larry Krannichfeld told Stephania H. Davis of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Added his widow, Bobbi Palmer, “Before then, to get an animal for the zoo you used to have to kill the mother to get the babies. Red loved the idea of inventing something that saved animals, because he loved animals.” Palmer spent the rest of his life making chemical capture equipment, tested on various species at his own 600-acre menagerie in Douglasville.
John Emery, 85, noted for pioneering investigation of sudden infant death syndrome, died from smoke inhalation on May 1 during an unsuccessful attempt to rescue his eight-year-old Airedale, Sophie, from a pre-dawn fire at their home in Aylburton, Gloucestershire, England. Emery hurried his wife Marjorie, 82, out of the burning home, but returned inside upon realizing Sophie had not followed.