Shock as Pretoria Zoo spokesperson Craig Allenby dies
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Pretoria - The South African National Biodiversity Institute and media fraternity have been left reeling following the death of Pretoria Zoo spokesperson Craig Allenby.
He was the director of marketing, communication and commercialisation at the Zoo, also known as the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa.
Allenby was found dead in his home in Pretoria east yesterday.
Lali Meintjes, a close friend and colleague, said they were shocked and devastated at hearing the news of Allenby’s death as they had been with him the previous night to celebrate her husband’s birthday.
Meintjes said he was in high spirits and they enjoyed the evening together, which is why they were heartbroken to hear of his passing.
She said he was found dead in his bed and at this stage, although police investigations were continuing, they did not suspect any foul play.
“It’s a massive shock to all of us who have worked in the media who knew Craig. He was the one person you could call at any time and he would be responsive. He truly made an effort to an ethical and truthful communicator.
“The world is a much poorer place because he is not in it anymore. Last night we had an amazing night and waking up to such news just breaks your brain.”
Meintjes said her friendship with Allenby started in 2012 when she was working on a story of a missing black mamba at the Pretoria Zoo.
She said she would call him at any time and he was always ready with an update of the situation so much so that he called her to celebrate when it was eventually found.
“Craig was the ultimate professional since he began his journey at the zoo in 1991, and he dedicated his entire life to the cultivation of biodiversity.”
Val Boje, chairperson of the National Press Club, said Allenby had a wide circle of contacts within the media and was accessible to them and highly effective as a communicator.
Boje said Allenby was extremely passionate about promoting the work of the institute so much so that he was also awarded the press club communicator of the year award in 2014.
“The National Press club extends its condolences to Allenby’s mother who survives him, his colleagues and his friends.”
Meintjes said details regarding Allenby’s memorial would be communicated in due time.