Questions over Lion Man cash

By Kathryn Powley

Busch fans believe he is 'close' to a deal over Zion wildlife park. Photo / APN
Busch fans believe he is 'close' to a deal over Zion wildlife park. Photo / APN

Questions are being asked about thousands of dollars donated by supporters of Lion Man Craig Busch.

Reality TV star Busch and his mother Patricia have been locked in a legal battle for control of Zion Wildlife Gardens near Whangarei. The park is in receivership and liquidation but Busch and his lawyer have put in a proposal to receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Neither party would discuss details but Busch's supporters seem convinced a deal is imminent.

Busch visited the park in the past fortnight but his lawyer Noel King said he was no longer in New Zealand and it was understood Busch was in Africa.

PwC receiver Colin McCloy said: "We've received expressions of interest. We are working through the processes as efficiently as we can."

Busch has more than 71,000 supporters registered to his Facebook page.

Until recently, Charles Cadwallader, a former Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry manager of animal welfare investigations and SPCA national chief inspector, was among the faithful.

But Cadwallader has washed his hands of Busch. In an open letter to Busch supporters he said he'd repeatedly asked about funds from a now-closed UK charity called the Big Cat Rescue Trust but had come up against a "wall of silence".

"If these questions are ignored then people might justifiably be concerned that something untoward has happened to those funds."

Cadwallader worked voluntarily for "Team Busch" for five months. He was concerned first for the welfare of the animals and then for people who could ill-afford to make donations.

But Busch's Tutukaka-based spokesperson Jill Albrow dismissed Cadwallader's fears.

"I always say to people 'Don't give anything that you can't afford' but I'm not concerned that there's anything untoward going on."

Meanwhile, Busch has debts. Whangarei lawyer Wayne Peters is waiting for a court date over about $80,000 in outstanding legal fees. Auckland law firm Foy and Halse has an outstanding judgment for $16,400 and Cadwallader is waiting on a refund of $2700 for an airfare he'd paid for Busch.

- Herald on Sunday

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