Zion Wildlife Park receiver's warning to creditors

Craig Busch  - the 'Lion Man' - at the Zion Wildlife Park, which receivers say has had some interest over sale of the land and animals. Photo / APN
Craig Busch - the 'Lion Man' - at the Zion Wildlife Park, which receivers say has had some interest over sale of the land and animals. Photo / APN

The receiver for Northland's Zion Wildlife Gardens is in talks with interested parties looking to buy the land and animals, though there probably won't be enough money to pay unsecured creditors.

Receivers Colin McCloy and David Bridgman of PwC had begun the sale process and were "working with a number of interested parties in this respect,'' they said in their first report.

The park, which houses 36 big cats including lions, tigers, cheetahs and a leopard, is still running pre-booked tours but is otherwise closed to the public.

Since their appointment, the receivers have stressed in their updates that they are doing their best to maintain the welfare of the animals.

The park called in receivers after defaulting on its loans in July, and owes some $2.7 million to Rabobank as first ranking secured creditor and $292,000 to owner Patricia Busch as second ranking creditor. The receivers have received some $25,000 of claims from unsecured creditors, but don't expect to have any funds for them in the wind-down process.

The Inland Revenue Department has lodged a $135,000 claim.

"The process of realising the companies' assets is not yet complete,'' the report said.

"From our observations to date and given the level of secured indebtedness in the companies, we believe that there are unlikely to be any funds available for unsecured creditors.''

The park has struggled in recent years and got unwanted publicity with the fatal mauling of lion keeper Dalu Mncube by a white tiger in 2009. The tiger was shot after the attack.

That followed on from the fight for ownership between so-called 'Lion Man' Craig Busch and his mother Patricia, who refinanced the park to keep it afloat in 2006.

- BusinessDesk

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 20 Aug 2014 19:47:37 Processing Time: 494ms