18 Jan 2012

Caution urged over sale of wildlife park

6:31 pm on 18 January 2012

A lawyer for a wildlife park in Northland is urging caution over its possible sale, saying the receiver needs to be more transparent about the fate of 36 big cats.

A hearing concerning the sale of the Zion Wildlife Gardens in Whangarei was held at the Auckland High Court on Wednesday.

The receiver, PricewaterhouseCoopers, has delayed an application to have the animals removed from the park or put down.

It says it will not need to proceed with that application if the sale of the park goes ahead as a continuing operation.

But Evgeny Orlov, the lawyer representing the park, says it is crucial to know what steps the receiver has taken to protect the animals if a new operator is to step in.

Television personality Craig Busch founded the park, but it was taken over by his mother Patricia Busch in 2006 after she raised funds to pay off the park's debts.

Mr Orlov says Ms Busch is under great emotional and financial stress.