Helmut ‘Heli’ Dungler: 18th November 1963 – 5th January 2020

Helmut ‘Heli’ Dungler: 1963-2020

Helmut ‘Heli’ Dungler

18th November 1963 – 5th January 2020

Twenty-twenty and a new decade dawned with shocking news that Helmut ‘Heli’ Dungler, founder and president of Four Paws, had passed away suddenly, leaving the world to mourn the loss of a real giant in animal welfare. 

To me, greatness can be measured not in wealth or trophies, but in the amount of good created. By this measure, and many more, Heli will be remembered as one of the true greats. He worked tirelessly to take Four Paws from an idea amongst many in his mind to one of the biggest and most impactful animal welfare organisations globally. His vision now sees Four Paws’ animal champions working directly in 15 countries, fighting animal suffering and rescuing them from harm.

Born in 1963 in Waidhofen an der Thaya in Lower Austria, Heli followed four years at Greenpeace Austria by founding Four Paws in 1988. 

A Genial Genius

Heli was a genius. He could see what made for success. Which is why Four Paws is so strong and effective today. It was always a pleasure to see Heli at work, breaking complexity down into the most easy-to-follow steps. He was so often understated; giving others the space to express themselves before offering that special insight.

I first met Heli twenty years ago when I was privileged to work for him as consultant, developing the case for compulsory labelling of battery eggs. When I became CEO at Compassion in World Farming, I quickly came to regard Heli as a close collaborator and then friend and fellow traveller in the fight against animal cruelty.

Helmut ‘Heli’ Dungler: 1963-2020

Heli had this wonderful ability to smile with his eyes. It was infectious. His welcoming embrace was always warm and generous, making any meeting with him such a joy. His smile and frequent humour belied the seriousness of the subject and the keenness of his razor-sharp mind to cut through the business of saving animals.

Heli was a genius and an inspiration; someone who I became honoured to regard as my friend. We would talk often about Lion’s Rock, the lion sanctuary he founded in South Africa. I will never forget that look in his eye on a balmy summer’s evening in Vienna, when he told me how Lion’s Rock was the place in the world where he felt most at home. It was Lion’s Rock where Heli so suddenly and tragically passed away.

Genius, warmly genial and a true great for animals: Heli, my friend, you will be so deeply missed.

Sincere thoughts and prayers of deepest sympathy are with Heli’s family and all at Four Paws International.

Philip Lymbery

From Heli’s memorial service in Vienna, 25th January 2020

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