Frankton Zoological Gardens owner Ivan Young has died, aged 88.
Young had run a not-for-profit zoo – well-known for its peacocks and rabbits – since the 1970s after originally buying his Kawarau River-side property in 1965.
After shifting from Dunedin in 1962, he was in charge of the former Queenstown Borough Council parks and reserves for 14 years before developing his zoo.
Over the years his property survived a fire, the record flood of 1999 and numerous approaches from developers.
In 2009 he told Mountain Scene: “The funny thing is, when I first bought it [for $11,500], folk thought I was mad because there was nothing here.
“But I needed the space for the animals.”
Asked in another interview what he liked about animals, he replied: “They respond to kindness – there’s far too much cruelty to animals in Queenstown.”
Over the years, people would often drop off injured or unwanted pets.
Young often also hosted court offenders serving community service.
A hard worker, he resisted suggestions he should retire: “I would be like a bear with a sore head.”
Young is survived by his wife of 66 years, Daphne, four children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
According to his death notice, a private family service will be held.