Craig Busch

Craig Busch
Craig Busch
Born Craig Busch
18 December 1965 (1965-12-18) (age 45)
New Zealand
Other names Lion Man
Known for The Lion Man

Craig Busch (born 18 December 1965) nicknamed "The Lion Man", is a New Zealand television personality. He was the founder, and remains the majority shareholder of Zion Wildlife Gardens Ltd (In Receivership and Liquidation).



Busch spent some time in Utah, in a mountainous region populated with wild cougars. On developing a friendship with one of these cougars, Busch realised that interacting with big cats was his mission in life. He later spent time in Hollywood as an animal handler for studios and wealthy individuals.

In 2007, Busch was convicted of assaulting his former partner in 2005. He had had a previous conviction of assault in 1991. [1]

Zion Wildlife Gardens

Busch moved back to New Zealand, taking three white tigers he had bought from owners in the United States, ensuring none were related in order to provide a viable breeding population. Busch built Zion Wildlife Gardens, initially in Kerikeri and then relocated to the current site outside of Whangarei.

Busch featured in a New Zealand television documentary series The Lion Man, one of the biggest selling New Zealand television series.[1] The series is shown in more than 130 different countries but not in New Zealand.

Busch aimed to breed big cats to increase their numbers, assisted by exchange programmes with other groups such as Global Tiger Patrol.[2] Efforts included the exchange of New Zealand's first natively born white Bengal tigers with a white lion cub named Gandor, from the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve near Johannesburg.

ERA (Employment Relations Authority)

In November 2008, Busch was dismissed from Zion Wildlife Park.[3] There are allegations by Zion Wildlife Gardens that Busch failed to keep proper training records, had incorrect cash handling procedures, loss of revenue due to cancellation of tours, undertook major breaches of safety protocols and inappropriate behaviour in the workplace but these remain unproven by ZWG. In August 2009 Busch withdrew his claims to be reinstated and his personal grievance for unjustified dismissal.[4]

Declawing at park

From 2000 to 2008, during Mr. Busch's tenure as the Operator and owner of Zion Wildlife Gardens, most of the big cats were declawed[5], a "restricted surgical procedure" in New Zealand. According to the Zion Wildlife Gardens site[6], these cats are now going lame (a well-known result of declawing) and have difficulty grasping their food.

Return to television

In June 2010, it was announced Busch was returning to television with a new reality series,[7] with filming taking place primarily in Africa. To date nothing further has been heard of this series.


David Bridgman and Colin McCloy of PwC were appointed receivers of Zion Wildlife Gardens Limited (In Receivership & In Liquidation), on 26 July 2011. Subsequent to this, the Official Assignee was appointed liquidator of the Company on 22 August 2011.

At this stage, Zion Wildlife Gardens is closed to all but prebooked visits.


External links

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