The Lion Man has hit back at new claims he abuses his animals at his big cat sanctuary in South Africa, saying "you cannot abuse a lion".

Craig Busch said he was firm with the lions but did not abuse them.

"You cannot abuse a lion. If you abuse a lion and then want them to be your friend, that does not work," he told Fairfax.

"Lions have a very good memory, they forget nothing. They will get you when you're not looking, and they will not be loving."


The allegations have come from local current affairs show Carte Blanche, which features former workers claiming Busch mistreated his animals and nearly killed a baby giraffe during filming for his Animal Planet show.

Busch has now lodged a complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA), saying editing in the TV report made him look like a "monster".

Carte Blanche said they stood by the story, which included footage of Busch allegedly dragging a lion called Tembi with a leash.

He claims he was only trying to get the lion back into her camp to avoid an incident.

Busch lives on a farm called the Jabula Big Cat Sanctuary near Rustenburg, north of Johannesburg.

A national inspector for the South African SPCA, confirmed she recently visited Jabula for a routine inspection, and there were no grounds to launch an investigation.

Busch said his estranged mother, Patricia Busch who still lives in New Zealand, and her colleagues are behind an alleged "smear campaign" against him.

The pair have been embroiled in legal battles over Zion Wildlife Park in Whangarei.