18 Jan 2012

Wildlife park receivers hope offer will save big cats

7:03 am on 18 January 2012

The receivers of the Zion Wildlife Park in Whangarei hope an offer for the zoo will ensure the survival of the animals.

The announcement comes after the lawyers representing the park claimed the 36 big cats may have to be put down if they are not moved by early February.

The receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers says an interested party has made an offer for the park and an application has been made to the Auckland High Court to support the sale of the zoo.

It says the welfare of the animals remains a priority and they are being provided with food and veterinary care.

A hearing to consider the sale of the park and the fate of the animals will be held at the Auckland High Court on Wednesday.

The president of the Australasian Zoo and Aquarium Association has said it will work with its members to try and house some of the cats, if necessary.

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.

Whangarei deputy mayor Phil Halse said the region would lose tourism dollars if the wildlife park closes permanently and is is appealing for any interested parties to throw it a lifeline.