Eccentric safari park owner dies after contracting COVID-19

The eccentric owner of Longleat Safari Park, Lord Bath, has died after contracting coronavirus.

Alexander Thynn, 87, died on Saturday after being admitted to hospital in Bath on 28 March, his family have said.

In a statement, the safari park said: “It is with the deepest sadness we have to announce Lord Bath has died at the age of 87.

“Alexander Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath, passed away on Saturday, 4th April. He was admitted to the Royal United Hospital in Bath on 28th March where it was confirmed he had the coronavirus.

“The family would like to express their great appreciation for the dedicated team of nurses, doctors and other staff who cared so professionally and compassionately for Alexander in these extremely difficult times for everyone

Lord Bath at Longleat House

“They would politely request a period of privacy to deal with their loss.”

Lord Bath was well known for having multiple partners in addition to his wife, and he claimed to have 72 “wifelets” who were immortalised in paintings he placed on Longleat House’s walls.

They included models and a 17-year-old Sri Lankan.

TV presenter Ben Fogle paid tribute to Lord Bath on Twitter, posting a picture of him and his colleague Kate Humble with the safari park owner. The three of them spent years filming the series Animal Park together.

He wrote: “Devastated to hear the sad passing of Lord Bath. We spent nearly two decades with the eccentric and colourful Lord at Longleat filming Animal Park.

“He will be missed. Sending my love and condolences to the family @Emmaweymouth1 and everyone at @Longleat.’

Lord Bath at fancy dress garden party at his home, Longleat House, in 1987

Kate Humble, who presented the show, which ran from 2000-09, said she was “very sad” to hear of his death.

She tweeted: “Everyone will describe him as eccentric – and he was, gloriously so – but he was also kind & fun – and we all need a bit of kindness & fun in our lives.”

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Lord Bath, then Viscount Weymouth, was educated at Eton and Oxford and was president of the famous Bullingdon Club.

In 1969 he married Emma Gael and had two children, but he said in 2010 that he also acknowledged that he had “an eight-year-old but I don’t see enough of her”.

Lord Bath stood in the first European parliamentary elections in 1979, representing the Wessex Regionalist Party which he helped to set up.

After becoming the 7th Marquess of Bath in 1992, he sat as a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords.

But he lost his seat when Labour reforms excluded most hereditary peers.