Craig Busch and Zion Wildlife Gardens

Craig Busch - Lion Man?

Due to a squabble with his mother in December 2008, Craig Busch, the infamous 'Lion Man' was forced from his position and out of Zion Wildlife Gardens in New Zealand. There were suggestions of inappropriate behaviour, petty theft and failure to observe implemented safety procedures amongst others

His mother wanted him off the premises altogether for her own safety. She feared he may assault her. Mr Busch has twice been convicted of assaulting women. Once in 1991 and again in 2007. Regardless of the circumstances I have always viewed men who hit women with suspicion and distrust and especially with regard to the way they may treat animals. He has been described as physically intimidating and verbally abusive to staff.

There was a 60 Minutes TV programme about Craig Busch. This interviewed many people who had suffered at his hands and outlined the abuse he carried out. Though placed on YouTube on a few occasions it has always been removed by pressure and complaints from the Craig Busch Fan Club. They argue that there is nothing to hide and yet they don't want anybody to see the truth. The programme showed the real 'Craig Busch'.

Presently videos are available again:

They were posted on the 17th April 2010 - REMOVED AGAIN by the 19th April 2010 - Someone definitely does not want you to learn the story!

 ....Happily they are currently vieweable on YouTube.

lionman Craig Busch part one

lionman Craig Busch part 2

Craig Busch is an actor. A very good actor. The person he portrays on the TV and for the public is that of a knowledgeable and caring conservationist. The truth is that he is a cruel, uncaring and deceptive bully.

Declawing

I have worked in zoos for more than forty years. During that time I have, by necessity rather than design, hand reared a number of Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Jaguars, and Pumas amongst other animals. I have never had occasion to declaw a single one of these and nor has the thought of doing so ever passed through my mind.

Declawing is as barbaric and inhumane as it is unnecessary! There can only be one instance where such a procedure should be considered and that is if the animal was self-mutilating. Even then it would be after all other options had been explored, and explored twice over. Euthanasia would be a kinder and more considerate option than declawing. This in as much as euthanasia does not hurt and is quickly over but declawing is painful and lasts a lifetime.

This cruel procedure is not simply a matter of trimming the animals toenails but is actually the surgical amputation (Onychectomy) of the end of the animals toes. It is much the same as cutting off the end of a human beings fingers and toes. It is not minor surgery! It permanently maims the animal. Such an action affects the big cats natural behaviours and instincts and in turn its long term physical and mental state. Such disablement affects the ability to groom itself, to climb and to defend. It messes with their minds. The removal of an essential part of the body leads to a change in the way nature intended the animal to move and unnatural locomotion is used to compensate which will eventually cause painful arthritis and back problems. Abscesses of the feet are common after surgery. Fifty percent of all cats which are declawed have some form of obvious complication and with twenty percent of these it would be long term.

Declawing is actually illegal in many countries or considered extremely inhumane. These include England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Germany, Italy, Austria, Brazil, Switzerland, Norway, Israel, Malta, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, Australia and New Zealand.

Sadly in some other countries the declawing of domestic cats has been almost a standard mutilation to protect furniture or similar.

Why would anyone consider such an awful and cruel procedure with a wild animal such as a lion or tiger which is never going to come anywhere near a piece of household furniture? The short and true answer is simply so that someone can enter an enclosure with such an animal and come to next to no harm. Providing the animals are hand reared and humanised then such a person can play Tarzan, showing off as to how clever, brave and 'in touch' with nature they are. Teaching an animal not to bite is very easy. Teaching a clawed animal not to scratch is more difficult and actually does need someone who understands animals.

Entering an enclosure with a Big Cat serves no useful purpose. It is not educational and it plays absolutely no part in research or conservation. Playing with Big Cats is pure circus and has no place in the modern zoological garden.

It is easy to do however. You simply take the cub from its mother shortly after it is born and rear it on the bottle. It becomes humanised and apart from size lions and tigers are not so very different in behaviours to your household tabby cat. It is the size and strength you have to be cautious of. If your domestic cat swats you with its paw in annoyance then a lick may be enough to soothe. A lion doing the same thing may mean you require some surgery. Biting, in spite of the teeth, is not so much of a problem. If trained correctly then the word 'No' should be enough. There really is nothing brave, clever or magical about such 'communion' with cats.

The so called 'Lion Man', Craig Busch of Zion Wildlife Gardens in New Zealand has achieved an almost cult status through regularly appearing on TV playing with declawed Big Cats. The only educational value is in showing how easy it is to dupe the public.

35 out of the 41 Big Cats at Zion Wildlife Gardens had been declawed.

                                              Read: PLAYING WITH LIONS

The Declawing Issue

Golden Tiger

Beautiful? Yes...but a man made freak of no conservation value.  Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/
Beautiful? Yes...but a man made freak of no conservation value. Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/

White Tigers

The website for Zion Wildlife Gardens claims that they are the holders of Royal White Bengal Tigers a Bengal sub-species . This is absolute rubbish! There is no such thing as a 'Royal White' and as far as suggesting that it is a 'Bengal sub-species' it only goes on to compound the lie.

When Craig was running Zion the website stated: "All Royal White tigers are a Bengal sub-species and have a double recessive gene that causes the striking colouration, resulting in cinnamon stripes, blue eyes and pink noses. It is reported there are only 120 Royal White tigers left in the world and the species has been extinct in the wild since 1958 ."

The origin of the white tiger lies with a Bengal Tiger but man has messed around with the genetics for so long now that it is doubtful that any remain purely Bengal. The white tiger has, according to the website, been "extinct in the wild since 1958". This implies that there were dozens of white tigers running around in the wild before that time. No there were not. There was an occasional animal born in the wild and the possibility remains that one could be born there again. White Bengal Tigers are an aberration of nature, an infrequently occurring freak.

The website goes on to proudly claim that one of their white tigers carries the gene for the Golden Tabby Tiger whose marmalade colouring make it one of the "rarest in the world".

The website stated "The only female, Rewa, carries the solid white gene and has already produced New Zealand's first two Royal White tiger cubs in late January 2005. In her lifetime it's possible she may deliver a solid white tiger cub (with no stripes). She also carries the gene for a Golden Tabby tiger, which is a marmalade colouring and one of the rarest in the world ."

This is not clever. It is NOT conservation. It has no useful place in a modern zoo. Zoos are about the long term maintenance of wild animals, research, education and not to be party to the deliberate manufacture of freaks! Okay the freaks will bring in the gullible and uninformed but so too would the two headed turtle and six legged sheep that I remember from fairgrounds as a boy.

Zion Wildlife Gardens is trying to breed a stripeless white tiger. For as long as they pursue this ignorant and pointless prize, white tiger cubs will be born weak and deformed or the wrong colour and have to be euthanased. Euthanasia in a vets hands can be a kind and efficient procedure. Not so in the hands of Mr 'Do It Yourself' Craig Busch.

WHITE TIGERS ARE NOT RARE OR ENDANGERED

 

White Lions

Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/people/mariaasr/
Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/people/mariaasr/

White Lions

Unlike many the Zion Wildlife Gardens does not claim that their White Lions are a separate species or subspecies so they must recognise that this startling looking creature was, at least at one time, an infrequently occurring freak. Why then have they made the effort to obtain two of each sex with different bloodlines all carrying the same recessive gene? Once again it is to manufacture a cartoon animal for people to gawp at. There is no conservation value at all in keeping or breeding white lions.

WHITE LIONS ARE NOT RARE OR ENDANGERED

Barbary Lion

Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/photos/growlroar/
Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/photos/growlroar/

Barbary Lions

There was actually a Barbary Lion. The last one was shot in the wild in the early 1900s and some existed in captivity in Morrocco for some years after that. There is presently no formal breeding programme for the Barbary Lion. It is not unusual for some zoos to advertise the fact that they have Barbary Lions without having supporting evidence.

The Zion Website in Craigs day stated "It is believed there are only approximately 250 alive in the world today. Zion Wildlife Gardens is now part of a specialised breeding programme to help this species remain in existence."

Somewhere along the way I have read that one of the Barbary Lions in Zion is white!!!! Is this Gandor? If it is correct then it makes an already ridiculous situation worse.

BARABARY LIONS ARE EXTINCT IN THE WILD. THERE ARE NO PURE RACE BARBARY LIONS IN CAPTIVITY.

Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pokerbrit/
Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pokerbrit/

Stolen Spaces

Any zoo which goes down the road of breeding unnaturally coloured animals, animals harbouring harmful genetic traits has divorced itself from conservation. They have become ANTI CONSERVATION. They are not just producing animals which are useless, but animals which can never be released into the wild. Nor can their cubs or their cubs cubs or their cubs cubs cubs, They are freaks!

Further to that the zoos which keep such animals are taking up captive spaces which could be used for genuine important conservation work. There is real need for places to keep various species in captive breeding programmes. Places like Zion Wildlife Gardens have the spaces but prefer to fill these with 'junk' animals.

Zion Wildlife Gardens claims to be involved in conservation and implementing strong breeding programmes. Sorry but no, it is not! Under the leadership of Craig Busch this collection has lost its direction so badly that it has fallen off the edge. It is laughable to call Craig Busch a 'Big Cat Expert' if the man fails to recognise these facts. He actually claims to be their 'Dad' on his website. What sort of Dad has his kids finger ends chopped off? What sort of Dad incapacitates his children for life? What sort of Dad produces unneeded children just so he can get the right coloured ones? Craig Busch has no more the "unique ability to understand and handle big cats" than Joe Bloggs on the corner of the street. I note too from his video that he has visited the Tiger Temple in Thailand. If he had a remotest understanding of big cats then we would have recognised what was wrong there and spoken out. But he didn't.

Zion Wildlife Gardens after Craig Busch

Because of the difficulties the Zion Wildlife Park was under the management of the collection became the responsibility of his mother, Patricia Busch. She sensibly called in expertise in the form of Barry Nalder as business consultant and Glen Holland (ex Zoological Director of Auckland Zoo) as licensed operator. Glen was a committed conservationist and recognised that White Tigers and their kind contributed nothing to conservation.

As Craig was no longer in charge various changes were implemented and all declawing ceased. It was decided also to cease breeding from the animals which were of no conservation value and contraceptive implants were but in place. Understandably Craig was not in favour of changes being made in general zoo practices and there were disagreements leading to a very difficult work atmosphere. Eventually these came to a head and led to the dismissal of Craig Busch in December 2008.

Sadly in spite of changes in practice implemented not all had completely taken place. Whereas is totally unnecessary ever to enter an enclosure with a big cat, a keeper Dalu Mncube did just that and was tragically killed.

Glen Holland eventually left to take up another position and was replaced in May 2009 by Tim Husband who continued to slowly put right those parts of zoo practice which were not in line with the norm. These included improving the safety of the enclosures as well as feeding and husbandry.

Tim has left as well now to fulfill contracts elsewhere but with the changed routine and health and safety Zion Wildlife Gardens is a different place today. It is safe for both staff and visitors and a much more professional outfit than in Craigs day. Plans are afoot to try to raise money to repair the damage done to the big cats feet by the inhumane de-clawing. Lecture Tours and other events are regular features on offer to visitors.

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IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT COMMENTS

Before you consider commenting....please don't bother. I have ceased to accept comments on this article either positive or negative. I believe most points of view have been aired a couple of times over. The majority who have sent comments recently have very clearly not read the article. Seems a bit pointless.

I have had some quite interesting ones recently including two from people of assumed identity. Interesting though this may be it does not change the article at all.

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Comments 224 comments

Zoo Keeper 7 years ago

Peter, if only everyone had the balls to say it like you do.

I couldn't agree more with your feelings on this "person" and his treatment of the animals, also the genetic monstrosities he breeds for entertainment.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Zoo Keeper - Thank you. I say it as I see it. But only after a lot of research first.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Thanks again, Peter. Thank you for showing us the real show that takes place behind the velvet curtain. Craig Busch should be a in a circus himself...Playing the role of a clown should suit him just fine.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

dohn121 - Thanks, you are right. Sadly a huge number of people have been taken in by the clown.


Merlin  7 years ago

So you dont know or want to know craig busch he is a wonderful caring man and has done an amaxing job with his animals. And should be where he belongs at ZWG the one who started it all. if it was not for craig busch the would be no ZWG as his soo called mother has got no idea niether had the soo called management.....

And you dohn121 should be in a cirus with wild animals and see how long you last !!!!!!!!!! HA HA


EG 7 years ago

What RUBBISH you talk..

Anyone that believes that crap is as thick and vile as you.

Those animals are BEAUTIFUL, and Craig Busch has a gift that most people would die for... You sound Jealous as hell.....


Elly 7 years ago

CRAIG BUSCH LOVES HIS CATS AND HAS WORKED DAM HARD....HIS MOTHER HAS RIPPED HIS LIFE APART AND HE DOESN'T DESERVE THE TREATMENT HE HAS RECEIVED.

THOSE CATS ARE ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL AND YOU ARE A CRAIG BUSCH WANNABE


Elaine 7 years ago

I've never read so much crap in my life.

Craig Busch is a gifted man who loves his Cats, wheras you are an idiot......

Those Cats are MAGNIFICENT and when Craig was with them, they were happy and contented.

Craig was charged with assault - agreed - BUT she was IN BED with another COUPLE, so not exactly innocent eh????

His Mother (if you can call her that), has ripped his life apart all because of Greed, Jealousy and Money.

He has 23,000+ supporters (and rising daily) that WILL get him back to HIS park to HIS cats....

He has been victimised, and has been the subject of Propeganda for far too long.............BACK OFF


paul 7 years ago

what crap you talk


Helen 7 years ago

I disagree strongly with your comments about Craig Busch AND the Cats. They are Beautiful animals.

You are a rude man


Steve 7 years ago

Do you get paid for writing this rubbish?


Margaret 7 years ago

Zoo Keeper / Peter / Dopey

You all talk crap - No prize for guessing who you lot are

Do you like victimizing a man who has worked long and hard, and has had his life ripped apart because of cruel jealous greedy deceitful people?


Debs 7 years ago

Leave Craig Busch and his beautiful cats alone


Kat 7 years ago

Peter Dickinson you are a nasty man

Leave Craig and HIS cats alone


collett31uk 7 years ago

What are u talking about???I have just read your hub on Craig Busch and also the one on the thai temple and i have a few points to raise.

Have you ever been to either ZWG or the Thai temple?? If not then how can you write about something that you haven't seen for yourself?? Do you believe everything you read in the media? Has it been proven by the right authorities that Craig declawed his animals because i watch the program and there have been episodes where the lions/tigers claws have been on show, ie, the episode where Tigo had to have stitches in his paw, the claws were clearly visable then.

Another point is that some of the tigers in the Thai temple were rescued as cubs because poachers had shot their mothers...what were the monks supposed to do?? let them die? They saved their lives and surely that is a good thing.

We should all be doing all we can to stop these magnificent animals from becoming extinct and i'm sure even you will agree with me on that point!

If their lives are in so much danger in the wild then sanctuarys like ZWG are a great starting block for saving these animals. As long as they are treated right, are healthy and their enclosures are big enough i don't see the problem. It's better than being shot for your skin/teeth or to make some stupid chinese herbal medicine with.

Animals like these belong in the wild but with evil people around that want to take their lives then that is just not possible.


Phil 7 years ago

Zion Wildlife Park is doing better without the spineless Monkey..

You folks bully others on facebook. You made personal attacks on Tim Husbands what is not fair when he is doing a great job turning ZWG around


Peter 7 years ago

Did you know that it was the PRESENT Management in ZWG that sanctioned and were fully aware of the declawing??

NO?? Thought you didn't.

Have they admitted it??

NO?? Thought not

At least Craig did a full report and explained everything for all to see.

And your post PAUL is amusing to say the least, because ZWG are the biggest bullies of all...

It is Craigs park, Craigs cats - he belongs there.

Tim Tongs classes the cats as 'chattels'..... very nice!

Who painted Craigs windows black? Who glued his locks??

NOT the public - because they arnt allowed near HIS home in HIS park.

Who defied a Court Order?? NOT Craig

Every argument you put up - we can shoot down

Bring back Craig Busch


Megan 7 years ago

Craig is brilliant


Peter 7 years ago

I meant to say Phil - not Paul


stormgerome 7 years ago

Hello Peter (Dickinson)

I know you are a very well respected man in the world of Zoos. I will say this. I obtained the declawing report from MAF and made it public. I have the original copy here with me. Despite the outrageous claims being made concerning "present management" sanctioning the declawings this is in fact completely erroneous. If those who are quick enough to attack you concerning your opinions had bothered to read the report properly they would note on page four of the report the following "Vets confirmed that at some time in 2000 Craig Busch approached them to carry out the declawing" 21 Lions and 9 tigers were declawed between 2000 - May 2008 the last being a young Lion. Declawing under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 is considered a Restricted Surgical Procedure - ie it must be done for the benefit of the animal being declawed. In other words according to the report there had to be a medically justified rationale for the procedures to be done. The veterinarian MAF consulted who had big cat experience advised strongly against these procedures being allowed to continue citing gait issues and arthritic complaints as the animals aged. The declawings were already part of set policy and procedure for those who are quick to lay the blame and point the finger it should be directed at the person who set those policies in place in 2000 - not 2006 as would be claimed.

On the rest of the issues concerned. The open insults to Tim Husband are nothing short of the work of fanatics who have no concept nor idea on how a facility for large cats should be run. MAF have very comprehensive regulations and guide lines concerning the management of zoo facilities of which Zion Wildlife Gardens is considered one of them under the prescriptions in the Animal Welfare Act and related regulations. I have met and talked with Tim on a personal basis and I can say comprehensively that he is more than knowledgable in the Management and Husbandry of Captive felids.

Peter continue to write as you have always written. Those making the insulting comments have come from the NZ Lion Man Facebook Page they are prone to also make threats to people on the internet.

I am sorry you have had to put up with such disgusting and ridiculous ill-formed comments from people who simply follow like sheep and do not do their research. I have. I have visited ZWG for myself and I can tell you that things have changed there for the better I might add.

Well done Peter I commend you not condemn you for saying what has needed to be said.


Barbara 7 years ago

I've done my research too, and I know who you are stormgerome. You are not quite as accurate as you think with your comments.

No threats have been made as far as I can see - there is a link for comments, and people have commented. Are only opinions that you approve of allowed on here?

If so, that reminds me of another Facebook page.... Hmmmm

If you didn't want comments putting on here, why did your friends stormgerome post the link onto the Lionman page???

Perhaps it was to stir....again??????


stormgerome 7 years ago

Well Barbara as if I am concerned by your comments?

Yes I have done my research very very thoroughly and unlike you I don't make unfounded accusations based on heresay

. No I don't know the person who posted that link and I am dismayed that they did.A conspiracy? I'm sorry your comments are invalid and seriously rather old hat. I don't agree with the methods done by Mr Busch if you have a problem with that too bad.

Use more tact and intelligence with your comments before you threaten people on the internet.


Conservation and wildlfe cruelty officer 7 years ago

Okay the freaks will bring in the gullible and uninformed but so too would the two headed turtle and six legged sheep that I remember from fairgrounds as a boy.

For gullible and uninformed see comments above and on the Craig Busch facebook page! Good work mate hope he can never work with animals again!


Emile White 7 years ago

well said storm gerome and Mr Conservation Officer - to the author of this blog post, very very well said, looks like you've done your research and you aren't relying on heresay.


Amy 7 years ago

Do you people believe everything you see on TV?

It's all propaganda to make money for that poor excuse for a human being.


Kiara 7 years ago

great article. too many of his so called fanatics have been taken in by his tv persona. having met craig personally he is NOTHING like you see on tv, i wish these attacking current management at zion and attacking his family could see this and realise what his family have been through all these years.

his keeping of cats was simply a passion that got out of hand, he wasn't really in it for conservation. He just loved cats. But really he doesn't have any zooligical knowledge and htis fails him, he interfered too much, resulting in litters being rejected, and he removed cubs for his own selfish gains, not the tigers.


Kiara 7 years ago

i had a read on that facebook page, and i notice nearly all the fans are from england. this doesn't surprise me. they do not know craig they know 'the lion man' from the show, and and they have been manipulated very carefully and fed misleading info. i almost feel sorry for them, they feel passioantely about something which is not true.

i ask you to come to enzed, see for yourself.


Timothy 7 years ago

Mr Dickinson & All ' Anti Craig Brigade'

Your post was deliberately posted onto the Craig Busch fanpage with the explicit purpose of causing a reaction.

It was posted by a not so intelligent supporter of yours, who obviously forgot that there was the CHOICE of leaving a comment - which is open to EVERYONE.

The supporters of Craig Busch have been accused of bullying, threatening, and trouble making, and this I find quite astounding, as it was the very same 'mob' that posted your link onto Craig Busch supporters page in the first place.....???

However, if the 'Anti Craig' mob were so squeaky clean, why would they do this in the first place??

No Sir, it is NOT the supporters that are the bullies, it is the 'Anti Craig' mobsters that continually attack, argue, insult, bully, threaten and instigate the problems.

I have read your 'article' and find it rather insulting for someone who has apparently spent their life in a Zoo (and therefore I assume you are an animal lover) to call these BEAUTIFUL Animals 'mutants' and 'freaks'

Mr Craig Busch has a gift that quite honestly most people would die for, and if your opinion is otherwise then one has to wonder why?

I have done my research into the whole situation and yes there has been mistakes made, and those mistakes have been answered. The majority of the Craig Busch supporters have also done their research as they are not all as silly as some would like to think they are.

This man has worked all his life and those cats are his world. He has been subject to a very clever smear campaign, and has been viciously attacked and various propeganda stories have been spread that has severely damaged his character... In my world thats called 'Defamation of Character'...... Does he REALLY deserve that??

Give the guy a break, and give his supporters a break.

Stop accusing everyone of things they are not guilty of....I'm no bully, but I've been tarred and feathered as one... I personally have never come across such rude, aggressive bullies as the 'Anti Craig mob'

I do not agree with your article sir.


Barbara 7 years ago

Dear stormgerome

Re your statement:-

"Use more tact and intelligence with your comments before you threaten people on the internet" ??? Hmmmm

I dont believe my comment above had any HINT of a threat, and it never would, because I am not a bully.

And I have far more sense and intelligence than you obviously gave me credit for.

I too am not concerned about your beliefs or opinions either.

My research was done thoroughly, and I have made my own mind up - just as you have.

Just because I have a difference of opinion doesn't make me or any other CB supporter a bad person.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you. The comments so far have been interesting and useful. How many of the commenters from the Pro Busch camp have actually read the Hub is debatable. I would like to think that just one or two would do so and actually see the man for what he really is.


SyQueue 7 years ago

How anyone can support breeding to bring out recessive genes, mutilation of animals and displaying them like puppets on a stage is beyond me, how can any of the pro Busch camp condone this? Because he cuddles them in front of a camera? foolish.

How is any of this directed at conservation? what good would a declawed tiger be in the wild? Peter D`s comments are justified and anyone who disagrees is blinded by tiger hugging trash.


stormgerome 7 years ago

@ SyQueue

As we know white tigers are only produced through inbreeding. Declawing causes life time gait issues and arthritis complaints. 30 animals have to live with that for the rest of their lives. Very sad they were ever subjected to the procedures to begin with. Conservation it isn't it's mutilation x 10 separate amputations.

But obviously I must be misinformed even though I have the original Report from February of 2009 written by MAF Enforecement Directorate here in New Zealand. I stand against declawing, the breeding of white tigers for the sake of colouring and I cannot condone the actions taken concerning those practices.

Thanks Peter for your opinions.


7 years ago

Peter you indeed opened a can of slimy worms with this one :)

"Zookeeper" is right - if only everyone had the balls to say it like you do. Peter please continue to write as you have always written! You know I value your opinion regarding animals, zoos, breeding programs etc.

It is sad to read the comments of the tiger huggers - sad to realise that people can be so ignorant.


Arthur  7 years ago

Whilst I can understand your outrage at the declawing I cannot condone your attitude on the White tigers. Granted inbreding these wonderful animals is wrong in every way, but mr busch was not the one to start the practice.

Just because as you say they are freaks of nature does not mean we can allow these beautiful animals to die out, these wonderful tigers are here and should be protected.

As for mr buschs methods maybe they are unconventional and not the norm this does not make it wrong. His passion and love of big cats brought us ZWG, without mr busch many of these beautiful creatures would be lost to the world.


Mermaid 7 years ago

I agree that some of the wording could be questioned (freaks, etc.) but I cannot agree that continuing to breed and display human-developed animal color morphs should be billed as conservation. What people are doing to these species is akin to selective breeding in domestic species to produce varying color morphs. No one is pushing for albino burmese pythons to be preserved and returned to the wild so why tigers? No doubt that albino and other morphs pop up in wild populations but the different appearance as compared to traits evolved over thousands of years of selection pressure often results in these animals having a very difficult time surviving to adulthood to reproduce. Anyone who argues that these selectively produced variants have biological or conservation value because of their attractiveness to humans does not understand science or the natural world very well.


Pattie 6 years ago

If you think posting an ill informed opinion is "doing your research" then you might want to try again.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Freak - Definitions of:

a person or animal that is markedly unusual or deformed

wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

the word "freak" is commonly used to refer to a person with something unusual about their appearance or behaviour

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freak

An abnormally formed organism, especially a person or animal regarded as a curiosity or monstrosity

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/freak

2.any abnormal animal, person, or plant; monstrosity

http://www.yourdictionary.com/freak

FREAK OF NATURE:

an animal or plant that develops physical features that are not normal for its type

http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/brit...

a person or animal that is born or grows with abnormal physical features.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/freak%20of%...

I could go on.


Leigh 6 years ago

Wow ! I was so intreaged by this i had to read it 4 times !

I agree yet again with Peter, and again knowing keepers in NZ and having been there too Craig does seem to have a bad reputation out there too. I once brought his name up in conversation with staff at wellington zoo and it was a very short conversation to say the least....... I was on the understanding that Glenn Holland Now ran Zion..... a well respected man in the zoo world and for DOC, I wish him well as he seems to have a lot of mess to clean up !


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

I understand that Glen Holland and Tim Husband are there now and conditions have greatly improved. The collection is in a lovely location and deserves to succeed. With zoo professionals on board there will be no further breeding of mutations and those there will, I hope, live out their natural lives.

Staff remaining in the zoo from the Craig era have remarked how the atmosphere and working conditions have improved for the better.


Janice24 6 years ago

Thanks for the article Peter. I had my doubts in the past over Craig Busch, however had not done enough research to make an informed opinion. Thanks to your article (and consequent further research) I know my doubts were justified. Its great that you have got the word out- If Pro Busch people think you are misinformed, let them go out and prove it- its impossible.

Those who say he has done an amazing job with animals- In what respect??? Those who say the animals he has bred are beautiful- Yes!!! But so are other naturally occuring morphs. What purpose do these white lions, tigers etc serve except aesthetic value for humans. Is that a justified reason for breeding them? Any conservation value???!!! Those who say Craig Busch loved the big cats- Would you impair or amputate a living creature if you loved it???!!!

Thanks again Peter.


Phoebe 6 years ago

Hmm i'm sort of torn between the two sides of the story. Yes, i do agree that white lions should not be inbred since i think it does make them deformed or something. HOWEVER! i went to zion wildlife gardens and about half of the accusations made by the media are not necessarily true. so could someone reply? thanks


Theliongirl 6 years ago

This article is stupid and immature. whoever wrote this is just some jealous poser. END OF STORY.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank You Phoebe and Theliongirl - I note that you both commented from the same computer in France so perhaps you should have a bit of a discussion together. I think perhaps Phoebe read the article and Theliongirl did not. Don't believe ME but just go through the points I have made one by one and research them yourself. Write your own Hub....shoot me down with facts. If you can.

I have noted that the ill informed tend to comment in gangs. EG, Elly, Elaine, Paul, Helen, Steve, Debs, Kat and collets31uk all emailed me from the same computer in Stoke on Trent in England. None of them had an 'invidual' opinion.


phoebe 6 years ago

lol i don't come from france i'm in the UK =) my sister loves watching the lion man because of the cute tigers and stuff. plus you're right about her not reading the article, she just wants to watch the next few episodes of it and doesn't like the idea of people talking about him like that.


Another keeper 6 years ago

Well said Peter, bet half the people sticking up for him never even read the article you wrote. It annoys me so much seeing zoos breeding white tigers and lions and then claiming they're doing a good thing.

And I think the fact that they're beautiful is hardly a reason to de-claw them and inbreed them into oblivion is it?


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanka Phoebe - never trust an IP address 100% I say. Thank you too Another keeper.


Lisa Eachus 6 years ago

I have just watched an episode of The Lion Man (in the UK)and then found your site, i have never been to NZ.

Wow i am gobsmacked! i did not realise he was doing all that to them lovely animals omg how awful. I could not imagine why anyone would want to declaw an animal that is just wrong and cruel and if he has done that then i think he should be banned from ever working with animals again! i have two house pet cats (slightly different i know what your thinking) but i just could not do anything to hurt them


stormgerome 6 years ago

What I am trying to understand here Peter is why are you being attacked? Is it so necessary that people have to come over and call you names and make fools of themselves. It solves nothing at all but only makes people look ridiculous.

Tim Husband is now running ZWG. MAF have just done an inspection and it is all good news. Hopefully ZWG will be releasing it. Just waiting to see what the word is there. Glen Holland has gone to Africa in a new position there.

Whatever people's feelings on the entire situation we cannot change it. The courts are the deciding factor on this matter not the public.


jean 6 years ago

i don't belive a word of this craig is a good man and there is 24,000 fans that will tell you this we are behind craig 110%


Another keeper 6 years ago

Hitler also had followers... Did that make him good?


Pete 6 years ago

Very well done article, and shows the sad truth into how people can be fooled easilly by a man playing with a white tiger. Craig is an absoloute disgrace and antithesis to the world of zoos and conservation.


Dave 6 years ago

Ok... So just read the investigation document from MAF re the de-clawing of several of the big cats..

people seem to have focused purely on whether they support craig or not.. When you read it, it is clear that Craig was a part of the de-calwing decision process. However I feel from reading the report that he has also been mis-guided by the MAF who were aware of the procedures taking place and did not raise objections at the time and also the zion vet who seemed to be focused on the zoo making money.

So it raises the question, has Craig been intentionally cruel or has he just been naieve and taken in by so called experts that have then turned on him when the story has come out..

I have always been a fan of craig, and I think deep down that he really does care about the cats, but I think that you can't ignore that report.. Maybe this is just a product of the fact that he has no official training behind him and he has taken advice from people who have sought to make a fast buck off the back of craig..

It's a tough one... but I think the courts are best to decide.. Ultimately it comes down to the welfare of the animals....


Keeper30 6 years ago

Well done Peter,your comments are well founded. Do any of your critics realise that most, if not all the cats at ZWG are hybrids, or inbreds, calling them 'beautiful' is very true, but very narrow minded. None of these cats could EVER go back to the wild because of their disastrous genes. Why didn't Craig focus on breeding pure subspecies, and ACTUALLY helping cats, not creating new freak cats? Craig did absolutely NOTHING for cat conservation. TV personas are not all bad however, look at Steve Irwin, he played to the camera, yes, but was good at it and helped a LOT of wild animals, Craig should take a leaf out of his book.


Simon 6 years ago

My apologies for the late entry into this fray, but in discovering it I feel I have to add my rare 2 cents as it were.

I am horrified at how the primary concern by the article that should have been forefront in peoples mind here is easily obscured by the "human element" (it did start wonderfully by the way). Bickering about Craig Busch (not entirely in the article, but apprently comments exacerbated by it - not obviously unintentionally), his human relationships, his original intentions/goals, his methods etc. seems so terribly moot. The animals are what matter, the animals are what worry us all (I hope). The article is slightly slanted from the start - attacking Craig, finger poiting, labelling (the animals involved) - calling names (let us face it, calling the animals freaks of nature is just awful and helps nobody and is in fact inaccurate from a viable alternate standpoint). Just plain nasty for nasty/point making sake. As a pedant and serial non-believer in anything one reads without references, please put links in and don't force me to search the world for them as I may never get them and discount your point of view for it if my google-fu is not strong (which would be sad - and I really do want to understand).

My personal primary concern is for the animals at Zion, and as such the whole Craig Busch is he good or evil thing currently seems pointless (he hasn't been there for some while at this point in time). With regard to declawing, could someone link me the document for any declawing requests at Zion - as I am not disbelieving, I just need to see it in cold hard black and white before I dare believe anyone would do it - horrific and hateful act (some Americans apparently deem appropriate for domestic cats still - wtf!!!I love my cat too much).

With regard to branding the animals as freaks (I know you try to explain this language Peter, I kind of get it is defensible) is slightly demeaning to their current standing - they are all wonderful and unique creatures. To think that these creatures are non-viable is horrendous - that would be like suggesting "please euthanise all dogs as they are non-viable and useless creatures that nature did not intend!" - becuase let's face it, we as humans have afflicted quite a few atrocities on our beloved canines. Not a fan of that viewpoint but that could be just me as these cats may yet still create part of a platform to re-launch a species lost to the world, and if not in it's purest state, one close to it!

I admire where you are coming from, and I really do not like the idea of de-clawing (still making me cringe). I would prefer to see a less person centric attack at practices than appears to have been formed here. Your intentions seem to be pure but seem sullied slightly by a specific affront to this chap. I can understand maybe that this is the point of the article - to attack Craig Busch - well, then so be it, make it a pure hate rant - but to mix with concerns of the big cats seems too open and from reading some of the comments, could be constrewn (in)correctly as simply baiting one side of a separate ongoing row.

I will be paying more attention from now, props to sticking your neck out and much love :)


Simon 6 years ago

Err wtf was I on about, this *was* an article specifically relating Craig to Zion, my Apologies. Personal opinion on mister Busch is exactly that, but a few of my points stand about the slightly derogatory terms relating to the viability of the animals and the lack of references ;) *peace* *retreats under rock*


Dave 6 years ago

Simon.... Link to declawing document..

http://www.scribd.com/doc/15903006/MAF-Report-Zion...


Kat 6 years ago

hmmmm... interesting reading. I can't say that the guys show has ever had me gripped.

I'll start with the colour morphs... now whilst i cant say I'm against the captive breeding of colour morphs (hell, i keep enough myself) I could never condone the breeding of genetic mutations in the name of conservation. the fact that he claims to be doing just that is -frankly- rediculous.

if a colour mutation popped up in his zoo then i can understand him using it as a form of pulling in patrons but not as a breeding animal. so yes thea b 'freaks' (as it was so cruedly put) but they are striking and i can see that the public will love them and so would have a positive effect on the park but i highly doubt that a reintroduced lion producing white cubs is going to benefit wild populations any.

on the subject of hybrids... these i am very anti. I dont have an issue with people keeping hybrids as pets if they are NOT bred from and are informed as to exactly what they are.

lions and tigers however are not pets in any sense of the word and hybridising species is nothing more than pointless. if he wants to play with genetics and produce colour morphs he should be breeding hamsters or mice as a side line. neither of these are ever going to be reintroduced into wild stock as they contain so many recessive colour genes already so he can hardly do any more damage to them...

declawing is deplorable and if The Lion Man did indeed get his animals declawed out of ignorance as has been suggested then it really is proof positive that he isn't as knowledgable as some are trying to claim him to be. i dont doubt that he has a love of animals and that he cares for them but that doesn't make him an expert does it? I know people that love wolves... doesn't mean that they are going to try and turn one into a pet...

I'm not against the keeping of exotics either in zoos or in private hands but i do belive that if some one is keeping such large and lethal animals that there should be a little more caution used and that it should be done ethically and responsibly. showing off how 'tame' your tiger is cannot really be considered any different than owning a breed on covered by the dangerous dogs act... maybe he doesn't see it like this but all i can think is that he's trying to make himself look 'cool'. Bless him.

maybe I'm doing him a huge injustice, after all i have not met him in person but i am an animal keeper and do not like seeing the exotic keeping hobby marred by prats that think playing with DWA's is a great way to show off. its just encoraging the idea that DWA's make cute and cuddly pets.

sigh.

alot of the people who are arguing this article clearly have no experience with animals and therefore couldn't possibly be expected to understand why this guy is a bit of an idiot with a fluffy TV program that makes him appear as cute and cuddly as his colour morph tigers...


Simon 6 years ago

Cheers Dave, thanks for the link. Makes for unpleasant/interesting reading. Who on earth did the obscuring of personal details on that? Sneaky forgetful non-edit in there ;-)


stormgerome 6 years ago

Simon the blacking out of names was done by MAF because of privacy issues relating to named individuals. The Privacy Act 1993 automatically applies to any document released under the Official Information Act which the declawing report was. I was the one who made it public. The original copy I received was already like that. Hope the clarifies your query.


Simon 6 years ago

Heya stromgerome, I wasn't suggesting the person that published it had done the editing, it simply made me chuckle at the effort that had gone into removing all the names/etc and leaving one glaring omission in the middle :-) (more of a rhetorical question - but I guess tone is not easy to convey over the internet). Definitely not having a pop at anyone on that count, on the contrary props for publishing it :-)

Cheers!


stormgerome 6 years ago

Hey Simon no I didn't think for a moment you were having a go. No worries at all. Yes when I first saw the report and all the blacked out names it clicked to me that MAF were protecting people and fair enough. Glad you were able to view the document. I obtained it because unless like you I see concrete proof then I won't take it as absolute fact. It has to be substantiated. The declawings were just as TVNZ had stated. And cheers back! Have a good one Simon.


Phoebe 6 years ago

i think zion wildlife gardens should be opened again WITH craig inside thankyou...but i think craig should be given a second chance because nobody would like it if their most precious pets were taken away from them would they? no i though not. it doesn't mean craig is an exceptionally bad person, he just needs to back his ideas up and pay attention to what's really happening here. what do you think?


Zoo Keeper 2 6 years ago

Thank you so much Peter! Very well said! Hopefully some people may begin to understand the truth behind these matters! So many times to do people say to us that they love watching the Lionman and all his work, and sadly no matter how many times you tell them how false it is, they refuse to listen.

I see the reasoning behind wanting to have so much hands on with the animals, but greater still is the want to actually conserve and rehabilitate the true species! After all, these animals are NOT pets!

As for the colour mutations, again it is another matter that is very difficult situation for many people to understand. We have a white-hybrid tiger, and because of that, she will never be allowed to breed. When you are dealing with a species when only hundreds survive, why start mixing it up? At no point should any zoo keeper want to have to play God to stop a healthy animal from breeding, but it's those original few who wanted to play God for designer purposes, that we must continue. The only way this will probably be put to a stop is with the exticntion of human. Bring it on!


GC 6 years ago

At the end of the day, I dont see why animals would show him the love if he didn't show them kindness. The animals would be fearful of Craig if he didn't treat them with kindness and love. You can see in the program that they are comfortable with him and that they have a bond.

I've still to read up on all of what has happened. It was only yesterday that I looked up on the internet to see what happened to Dalu (after watching lion man on tv i was curious), and initally I thought he was sacked over that. It seems there is more to it now with craig being accused of petty theft and poor management of the wildlife park...I am shocked to say the least!

I'm not sure whether this means he is cruel to animals though and to say the white lions are freaks, is not true...they are adorable and craig certainly cant be to blame for them being inbred. There is no reason to destroy what in nature has already happened a long time ago.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Sorry GC but your understanding and judgement is so clouded that you miss the point completely.


GC 6 years ago

I'm not missing the point, I completely see what you are saying in your article with all you points, however I dont like your description of calling the animals freaks hence my comment previously.

I just personally feel it would be sad to let these beautiful animals become extinct even if they are freaks of nature! Its just my opinion, all people have different one's, it doesn't mean only one can be right!

If Craig Busch has authorised the declawing of these animals and kept them in unsanitary conditions then I do not believe he should be permitted to care for these animals again. I am actually disgusted that considering the information in this article, if true, his program is still showing in the UK! Its an outrage!

You must understand that all this news regarding craig busch has not been publised in the uk, it has been minor news if anything. It is no wonder he many uk fans, it seems over your side of the world you are more informed of what is going on whereas over here, all we have is lion man really. So yes there is a definate cloud!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you GC- Sorry but the animals are freaks. They have been created by man. It really is on the way down the road towards the blue spotted tiger or something similar. To dress the man made creations up in a conservation garb is an educational crime. Now it is not the animals fault and I would be against their being euthansed because of what man had done to them. I think they should be allowed to live out their natural lives in comfort as far as is possible dictated by the effects of their mutilation.

It is very sad that the Craig Busch fans are unable to grasp the facts even when presented with them and the option to research further. He is a hypnotic character and it cannot be missed that most of his fans are of a 'type'. Your comments are appreciated. Thanks again.


Simon 6 years ago

Hi Peter,

On taking initial offence at the article you posted here and on subsequent research of my own, I can only thank you and others on here for opening my eyes to some of the facts involved in this subject matter. I was a great fan of the "Lion Man" series - nay loved it, and this sadly is what you have to contend with, but our intellect and will to learn the truth is not completely dominated here in the UK - some of us are still alive and free thinking. It is really and truly disturbing reading for someone that wishes to actually be edified and is open to research and bothering to look at things rather than believing in a glamour! And let's face it, that is all it is, a glamour - a spell. In the UK we have had little exposure to events unfurling in New Zealand and the subsequent news maelstrom - (I tend not to go with info from such frenzies anyway and try and sift through the aftermath). There is much that may never be truly know as truth and fact, but it is hard to ignore the declawings - that made me feel a little sick. The subsequent tactics and politics employed by the parties involved has saddened me. Out of the aftermath, it does seem that ZWG are currently under a much more sane running with Tim Husband, it seems that he keeps a much tighter and honest ship for these animals. No more hands on, no more reckless breeding for recessive trait purposes. New ideas and schemes of where to take the park without damaging the animals futures. He has had a lot to contend with and claw back (no pun intended). It looks like the park has a legitimate future in conservation if current efforts are successful.

Just to note, you have made a difference with that one person from the UK that maybe didn't believe you in the first place ;-) We aren't *that* dumb (I hope).

Thanks again for the eye opener.

Cheers,

Simon.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Simon - Thank you so much. I have been subjected to a lot of flak and nonsense since I wrote the article but felt that if I could get just one person to look at the facts then it would have been all worthwhile. You have. I am pleased. Thanks again.


hayley 6 years ago

i dnt belive for one min that GRAIG BUSH would hurt is cats he loves them.u and his mother should leave him alone and stop thinking about lining ur own pockets with money.


gwynintheUK 6 years ago

Hayley's remarks leave me gobsmacked. Her ideas are as nonsensical as her literacy.

She "doesn't believe for one minute that GRAIG (sic) BUSH (sic) would hurt his cats" [forgive me for correcting her spelling, but I have allowed through her seeming inability to spell her hero's name]. Oh well, that's all hunky dory then. She doesn't believe it could be the case, so clearly it cannot be true. Is this called evidence-based reasoning?

"leave him alone and stop thinking about lining your own pockets with money" Er, Hayley dear, how exactly is Peter "lining his own pockets with money" by raising these concerns about Craig Busch's behaviour?

I have no way of knowing whether Busch is guilty of ill-treating his animals, but there is sufficient legitimate concern to make it a proper subject for discussion.

And, if I may address the issue of referring to white lions/ tigers as "freaks" or "mutants" or whatever -

In the wild most animals conform (logically enough) to normal colour patterns. Within the gene pool there are certain unusual colour forms, normally expressed through recessive genes. From time to time these recessive genes will combine in order to produce the unusual colour form. Normally these forms are less well adapted (perhaps through loss of camouflage) and by natural selection will tend to die out, or be severely reduced in number - that's why they are rare.

They are, of course, eye-catching and in captivity there is sometimes a commercial incentive to encourage them. Which can only be achieved by inbreeding from a small gene pool, leading to health problems for the animals.

So, dear Hayley and others, is that ethical? Is that kind to the animals? Is that the action of a true animal-lover?


Phoebe 6 years ago

This is my opinion of the article (no offence to anyone of course)i think that maybe some of these facts that are being posted maybe are true in some ways and not true in others. What i'm trying to say is that maybe some of us do not know what is going on, plus many people have a different opinion on the matter and that maybe both points of view are true in some ways. for example: Some people say that craig isn't very good at looking after the animals and inbreeding them makes them 'a freak', but others may think that craig just wants to look after his cats and that everyone should just leave him alone.

as craig so openly said it was partly to do with family problems, me and my sister think everyone should not change their mind so quickly about craig as he IS NOT a bad and horrible person.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Phoebe - I wrote the hub so it really is my opinion and not others. I consider declawing cruel. I consider going into enclosures with large cats unnecessary. I consider the breeding of white or marmalade or stripeless tigers or white lions to be of no conservation value whatsoever. I consider that TV programmes or tours dressing up these beautiful freaks and going in with them as education is a lie. Sadly it is a lie believed by 26,000 plus people. Oh and Craig of course....only I feel that he really knows the truth.


James  6 years ago

i think it is ridiculous that he says that he breeds white tigers for conservation, They have no conservation value. If he told the truth that he bred because they are different it would be better than trying to pretend its for conservation.

As for the declawing issue, its totally inhumane and it should be banned, how would you like to get your fingers chopped off from the knuckle?


Simon 6 years ago

Hi Peter,

I am not sure if you are still following some of the background on what is happening over at Zion Wildlife Gardens, but I was hoping possibly to shine a ray of hope on the plight of the cats there that the current staff and management are looking to improve with regard to the de-clawing.

http://bit.ly/4ijstU

makes for interesting reading, and you wouldn't believe the "opposition" back-lash on that!

I will say no more and hope I haven't drawn the screaming hoardes to your door once again (apologies if it does).

Cheers,

Simon.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Simon,

Yes I knew a little about the 'reversal' operation but had not seen this story till now.


darin 6 years ago

peter, i agree with u 100% craig is nothing more than a woman beating,ignorant,arrogant ***hole.peter could u tell me what happened to karen and hams also please tell me what happened to darlu hope you can help keep up the good work maybe one day joe public will understand just what your saying many thanks for information some of which is new to me so thanks again ;;;;; Darin


Phoebe 6 years ago

i rest my case.


colin 6 years ago

if craig is not allowed run zion parks i will never watch the programm again here in the uk or anywhere again, he made the show and the park he is the one who cares more about the loins tigers and every other animals in the park u r going to give the huge set back if he leaves for good, he made the as he loves the cats .god bless u craig


Simon 6 years ago

Hi Colin,

I am not sure what you are trying to say here? Peter has no say in if Craig has anything to do with Zion Wildlife Gardens or the Lion Man show, that is between the New Zealand Courts, MAF and the TV company.

This hub is Peters opinion based on his own research and substantial personal experience in the field that he is passionate about and as such has drawn him to discuss it here. I for one thank him for sharing his opinions and experiences. It is an eye opener if you actually bother to look further behind what is being discussed here and stop to consider another persons opinion and not blindly believe what you are pedalled on TV.

Now this is me personally, I very much doubt the Lion Man series will ever record another season, and if it does - I would consider it extremely unlikely that it would follow the same format, be in Zion Wildlife Gardens or possibly even in New Zealand. The antics that made the show so popular are quite frankly no longer allowed in New Zealand, MAF quite rightly no longer allow for hands on handling of large felids.

I believe it is your perogative not to watch the TV series anymore, but as far as I can tell - this does neither the cats nor Peter any harm, if anything you may be harming the revenue of your favourite TV celebrity.

Cheers,

Simon.


Bee 6 years ago

First things first, I am looking to become a zoo keeper, and so I know how they work and all about breeding programmes, and coming from a scientific background I am fully aware of the whole mutant and freak debate that people seem to be unable to grasp. they are clearly beautiful but they have mutated genes which are not normal-hence mutant.

I have never been to NZ, however as soon as I watched an episode of the Lion Man I was shocked and confused as to how someone acting in the way that Craig Busch did could say that he was in it for the conservation of cats. I do not doubt that he loved "his" cats....by the way Phoebe they are not his pets and it is absolutely ridiculous to refer to them as such, all people who work with animals form some sort of attachment to them, however it is knowing what is best for the animals, not the carer.

I am not completely opposed to keeping white tigers or lions, aslong as it is done in a way that is in line with conservation-they should not be bred with each other but if they are to be used then they should be bred with "normal" animals. but I agree that it is far better to save the precious spaces for more deserving species.

I completely understand why the cats were declawed, afterall it would have been a disgrace if a cameraman had been mauled as the cats loved craig but no one else....still people do not understand that ofcourse it was covered up and any close up shots of paws would have shown the claws, and craig was shown to be loving and friendly with the cats and vice versa in order to show he cares.

good luck with your work peter!!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you Bee


Phoebe 6 years ago

sorry i didn't mean to say pets bee since i was thinking about my own at the time i meant to say 'animals' as i did on my latest comment.


Daniel 6 years ago

Peter, I don't know much about you but, from some of the comments here it sounds like you're highly regarded in this area.

I was a fan of the T.V. series for a while but I wasn't naïve enough to believe everything I saw on the camera. The passing of Dalu was very upsetting when I first heard of it and I did question if that would have happened if Craig was there. Then when it came on after Dalu's passing I started to see that the respect shown to these deadly predators astounds me.

No conservation is operated like this, and for good reason.

This may sound naïve but, how did he attain a license? Does he any qualifications in this area?

I don't hate the guy, I just believe he needs more experience in looking after these animals. If he came around to his mothers way of thinking and put aside his undeniable love for these animals, he would see that the way he operated the park was unacceptable and improvement were imperative.

The de-clawing issue is barbaric, period.

As for the 'women beating' issue that should have nothing to do with how he runs the park. I do not condone such behavior though.

He might have done this with the best intentions but, some of the worst things in the world have been done with the best intentions.

Peter, thank-you for this informative article. I hope you can write another one on the park as soon as possible so us over in the UK can be informed on how the park is doing.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Daniel - Thank you for the comments. I agree with much of what you say. I will monitor the parks progress on my blog as and when stories appear.

As to how he got his original licence. I believe this is explained in the video interview with the owners of the park he was in before Zion.

Women beating....never good.


kelly 6 years ago

have u ever met craig peter? and have u ever seen his so called nasty side? i recently met craig when he was in the uk he is a very nice man who loves his cats and just wants to be with them.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Kelly - I believe in the facts about declawing etc as outlined above. Anyone can be nice when you meet them. I don't doubt thar Craig can be the most charming and convincing of people. His fan base is evidence of this.


__El 6 years ago

This piece of writing is a baised . This is obviously a matter of opinion and not fact, for a person to believe every word of this is somewhat niave and the publisher is obviously doesn't have high respect for the work Craig Busch has done for these animals and the hard work he has put in to conserving some of the rarest big cats, rare because the selfishness of man.

Yes declawing is a barbric and inhumane procedure but where, exactly, is the evidence for all these 'facts' in this piece?

I also wonder if the sad passing of Dalu Mncube would've happened if Craig Busch was there to prevent it...

To alienate people to dislike Craig Busch is very...childlike? So please, for everyones sake, keep your opinions to yourself and stop trying to alienate people, like the saying goes, if you cant say anything nice, don't say anything at all.


lisa 6 years ago

Peter Dickinson You should be ashamed of yourself your article is nothing more than a hate campaign. Whatever my feelings towards Craig Busch or anybody else may be i would never publish such a one sided defamatory article about another human being. You may publish definition of the word freak all you like but the fact remains you used that word for no other reason than to cause comotion in which you suceeded WELL DONE!!

With reference to Declawing i think you will find that Craig Busch held his hands up, but have the management, vets and MAF also held their hands up as lets face it they were partly responsible because lets face it Craig Busch didn't do the op himself.

@ Stormgerome aka MadBushFarm aka L,C you sure do get around dont you? You are very well known for causing a stir on internet sites such as this therefore your comments are not worth a glance. You also suggest that 30 cats will suffer with the effects of declawing when it is infact 29 as im sure you haven't forgotten the incident that occurred at Zion costing a man and a tiger their lives as a result of the then operater and current managments negligence. I am pleased to hear that charges have been made against Zion with regards to this incident and rightly so.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

_El - The facts as you say are there. Declawing cats and making no contribution whatsoever to conservation. If Craig had not made it a common practice to go in with declawed hand reared cats and play clever, a practice which is totally totally unnecessary then nobody would have gone in. I don't actually believe you read my article.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

lisa - no I am not ashamed at all and far from hating Craig Busch I feel sorry for him. It is a factual article (no lies, untruths or fairy stories) and yes it is a touch one sided because I don't believe declawing is ever necessary in the same way as going in with big cats should never be standard practice because it is unnecessary. I also think that promoting conservation with freaks (beautiful or not) is a lie. There would have been no declawing if Craig had not convinced his vet that it was standard practice (which is a lie). Only Craig is to blame there no-one else. No-one at all. Are you going to donate to the correction surgery?

No intention to cause a commotion but to let 25,000 fans know that there is another side to the story they believe. If you cannot face up to this then I am sorry for you too.


kelly 6 years ago

oh my god peter the vet didn't have to do the declawing he had a choice its not as if craig had a gun to his head is it but maybe in ur sick head he did. there is far worse people out there and yet u pick on craig how sad is that, at least craig has been man enough to put his hands up to the mistakes he has made in the past im sure everyone has made mistakes some worse than others. everyone needs to think how they would reacted if they found there partner in bed naked with another couple i know i would go made. its so sad that people in this world have nothing better to do with there time. so really us craig fans should feel sorry for u.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

If Craig told his vet that declawing was standard practice. Then that was enough for the vet to go ahead. After the first time it became 'standard practice' for Craigs Cats. It was wrong..Craig was wrong. Perhaps in your sick head (your words) you cannot see that. I have yet to see anywhere that Craig has put his hands up to admit to his mistakes. Where was this exactly?

That there are worse people out there than Craig there is no doubt but it does not mean that what he did is any less bad.

I actually believe it is important that people ignorant of the myth that Craig was perpetuating should be made aware. This is especially important for Craig fans who do not read what I have written before commenting.

I have never written at length about the incident between Craig and his 'partner'. The key word there is 'partner'. I really think that you should do your own investigation there. End of discussion Kelly.


kelly 6 years ago

peter if u have done enough research on craig then u would know what craig has put his hands up for and admitted he has done wrong so maybe u need to investigate this more seeing as u dont know enough. and i think ur find she is now his ex partner.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

I ask again Kelly where has Craig put up his hands and admitted his mistakes? I have probably done more research than you on the subject and would be happy to include references to these admissions of guilt at the end of my article.

I think also that since you don't know enough that you will find that she was already his ex-partner for quite some time before he attacked her...even so it was unforgiveable abuse.


Lisa 6 years ago

Peter you are quick to jump up and defend your article as factual when the fact is that you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors (you know only what you are told) so you can NOT say that every word of this article is fact.

With reguards to your response to Kelly re. declawing you say if the vet was told by Craig it was standard practice the vets would then carry out the procedure, ok you would think that a vet who spends their every working day with animals would know all about "standard practice" also you neglected to mention MAF who would most certainly have or SHOULD have known about the issues surrounding declawing, as unless i am mistaken it is their job to protect animals.

It seems to me and i suspect many others that whilst you claim to have done your research. All you have done is write an article of the back of other peoples one sided accounts of Craig Busch which is in very bad taste indeed.

Craig Busch is being villified here when infact, the vet, MAF, P, Busch (the management) all had a hand in the declawing but are to spinless to accept their part in it.

As you are proberbly by now aware ZWG lost a beautiful animal yesterday and a lot of people ESPECIALLY CRAIG BUSCH are devastated by this. We will not know what happened until the autopsy reports are made public, however if eye witness are to be trusted it is not Criag Busch who you should be researching but the PRESENT management at Zion.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Lisa - I defend my article because it is the truth and is factual. Have you actually read it? There is nothing there on the back off anyone else (apart from a little history which I do not detail). I write about the declawing and about the non conservation species.

If you knew the first thing about how zoos and vets work then you would know that the person who asked for the declawing was Craig. It is/was his ultimate responsibility.

I have gone on about this enough now. Pointless effort on my behalf when people comment without bothering to read what I have written.

I did hear about the death yesterday. Do you think that the staff presently in the Park are not devastated too?


GC 6 years ago

I think what people need is more references in the article, they are either from other hub pages which are probably your own or linked to www.scribd.com....maybe this is the evidence other people need to trust your research more?


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

If people were prepared to go that one inch and research themselves then they would see the facts. Declawing is wrong and so is the pointless breeding of these animals. If you like it is ME, MY opinion, My expertise...then the scribd which is an official document plus other stuff. The Craig Busch Groupies are not prepared to consider anything other than what their master has said. I note Kelly has still not been able to come up with where 'Craig held his hands up' and admitted his guilt.


Liz Clark 6 years ago

Peter it seems Lisa there has a problem with the numbers of cats that were declawed. Sorry Lisa but at the time there were 30 animals declawed. I have the original copy of the report - what do you think you have been looking at on Scribd. 21 Lions and 9 Tigers to be exact which was confirmed to me by MAF in the covering letter that accompanied the declawing report they sent to me by mail. Two animals of that total are now deceased. Namely one Tiger and one Barbary Lion as you well know. Total animals remainng now number 28. I obtained that report at the end of May 2009. I have every right to visit any website I like and any forum I like. If you have a problem with that then too bad. Many people do as obviously you have done yourself. Sorry on the numbers of the animals declawed I am correct. Sourced directly from MAF. I suggest you contact MAF Animal Welfare and get them to confirm 30 animals were declawed. You will find that they will indeed verify that total 21 Lions and 9 Tigers. And I have not ever implied that 30 animals will suffer from the effects. It is clear from the policy statement by the American Veterinary Medical Association from 2004 that the declawing of Exotic and Captive Wild Indigenous cats was no longer considered proper Veterinary Practice. They cited these reasons as being the animals size, weight and the environment they were being kept in. Look it up on the AVMR Website it's all there in black and white search criteria declawing exotic cats. The authoritarian tone taken in your post Lisa does nothing to affect me personally. I couldn't care less what you say. So what. Have I attacked Mr Busch on this site - absolutely not. I do not support him because of the declawings. Sorry there is something clearly wrong if someone has to resort to asking vets to initate such procedures then asks for them to be confidential. It's in the report.


Liz Clark 6 years ago

Lisa I will also point out that at no time has the Department of Labour in their official media release stated that they will be laying charges against Zion Wildlife Gardens. They stated very clearly that they will not be naming the persons concerned until the court hearing. If you read the Headliner in the NZ Herald Article that states that the Department Labour had said that it was laying charges agains ZWG you will find that it completely contradicts itself. I would go directly to the Department of Labour website and read their official media release then try to tell me if charges are being laid against ZWG when clearly the DOL have stated the persons would not be named until the court hearings. I will wait until those dates and the persons the DOL are charging are actually named by that department not by heresay.



DAVE 6 years ago

WELL PETER YOU CERTAINLY MAKE A FORCEFUL ARGUMENT AGAINST CRAIG BUSCH.

BLAIR AND BUSH MADE AN EQUALLY FORCEFUL ARGUMENT WHEN THEY DECIDED TO GET RID OF SADDAM HUSSEIN WITH FICTICIOUS WDM'S


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Dave - It is hardly an argument. It is a statement of facts.

1/ Declawing is cruel and unnecessary

2/ It is totally unnecessary EVER to go in with large cats

3/ White Tigers, White Lions, Barbary Lions are not part of conservation related breeding programmes.

If you would like to make an argument to contradict these, forceful or otherwise...then please do so.


DAVE 6 years ago

PETER YOUR ATTACK SEEMS TO BE SOLELY AGAINST CRAIG.

IF THE PRESENT MANAGEMENT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO SACK CRAIG THEN THEY CERTAINLY HAD THE AUTHORITY TO STOP DE-CLAWING.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Dave - It is a statement of facts. If you have an understanding of how zoos work (which I do) then you would know that the buck stopped with Craig. The history of the how and why Craig's mother came into the park and bail him out financially is not something I have dealt with because it is actually irrelevant to this article. Craig is the one you need to speak too. I stand by what I have written. The buck stopped with Craig.

Think on...if Craig was still there and the dismissal had not taken place then the declawing WOULD BE CONTINUING as would the POINTLESS REPRODUCTION of colour coded cats.


Liz Clark 6 years ago

Peter this should help. This is the Judgement summary from the High Court of New Zealand from December 2008 when Mr Busch applied for an interim injunction to the High Court. Mr Busch's application in this instance had been declined. It contains a full history of the background concerning the business arrangements between Mr Busch and his mother Patricia.

http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/cases/busch-v-zion-w...


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Liz


Melissa 6 years ago

i absolutly love craig busch! if he didn't start the business in the first place we woudn't have these amazing animals now. most of the cats dont want to know their babies and craig takes them into his own house to look after them, if they were in the wild they would have died now. i don't see why hes getting loads of stick off everyone when he's doing something good. craig has done nothing wrong and owns more then 3 quarters of the park. so it won't be long till its back in the right hands.

RIP Khan


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Hi Melissa,

Your first sentence says it all. You love Craig Busch, and love, like hero worship tends to cloud judgement and prevents rational thinking. You have commented without reading the above or the comments but proved a point.


Amy 6 years ago

just wanted to make a point on this. Peter you say "Think on...if Craig was still there and the dismissal had not taken place then the declawing WOULD BE CONTINUING as would the POINTLESS REPRODUCTION of colour coded cats."

Then why are ZWG currently breeding a tiger with "the white gene" ? According to you Craig was the only one who did that!

I do honestly believe Craig has an unusual bond with these animals and that the animals are happier with him. Whether you like him or not you have to admit Zion Wildlife Gardens have lost 2 cats and a keeper without him there. And are unable to produce an autopsy for Shia or reveal where Abu is buried.... the more they hide things the less faith i have in them


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Amy - No, Craig is not the only person who breeds from Tigers with white genes. Many zoos do that. Some like Craig bred to deliberately produce white tigers which is different from breeding from cats with the white gene. This is part of the aspect that I disagree with. Deliberately produced white tiger litters often contain malformed cubs which have to be put down...all for the sake of producing one that looks pretty. It is not right.

As I understand it the autopsy on Shia has not been released yet and nobody is trying to hide anything. I too would not reveal where Abu is buried. Why create a place of needless worship (because that is what it will become for the ill informed). Cats die as do people ( see Brittany Murphy yesterday) and we really don't know who it will be next.

From what I know of the present management they appear to be doing an excellent job which is only hampered by attacks from the Craig Busch sheeple.


amy 6 years ago

I think those who really support Craig will be happy enough to leave it in the hands of the courts rather than have a mud slinging contest with ZWG. But as im sure you well know there's always one or two willing to cause trouble on BOTH sides. As for the breeding aspect of it Shikana has been bred with a white tiger. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what kinda cubs they're looking for.

Shame us humans cant keep out of it and have these beautiful animals in the wild where they truly belong.


LB 6 years ago

I am a UK journalist who has at least given Peter the decency of reading this thread in full, as well as reading the MAF report, and I am appalled at those who feel the need to support Craig because of his "love" for the cats. Surely the primary concern for any human being should be the welfare of the animals, not their need to blindly follow someone who has been PROVEN to have been involved in declawing them, citing one of the reasons for this procedure as to enable himself to safely spend more time with them?

We, and the animals, belong to the earth. The animals, and the earth, do not belong to us.

Similarly to other UK posters listed above, I was not aware of this and will be contacting the TV channels in the UK which still broadcast Lion Man. I do not believe the programme should continue to be broadcast and mislead the public as to the treatment and welfare of these cats.

Peter - are you able to offer any update as to the welfare of the cats now?


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

LB - Thank you for your comment. Under the present management the cats are being managed 'Hands Off' and contraceptive implants placed where needed. Serious consideration is being given to some surgery to prevent future problems with the declawed cats if funds can be raised. The recent tiger death is unfortunate and autopsy results are awaited. It is not likely to be due to poor management as all those working in the park are dedicated to the animals and the future success.


Tony 6 years ago

Peter did you know that Tim Husband has now left Zion.

he's now A Curator in a large zoo in Asia some where or so I am told.

I was at Zion only last week and spoke to a man named Ash who told me that Tim had gone but is in contact with some of the staff.

Ash said that over the 6 months that Tim was there he had threats made to him and his family by some of the fans of CB.

one fan even came to the park wanting to beat Tim up. gladly Tim meet the person and talked to him and showed him first hand the problems that the park has.

to those fools that sent Tim and his family emails and threats all I can say is well done you helped get rid of someone that unlike Craig knew what he was doing and only had the animals welfare first.

Now the judge has said that Craig can only come onto the zoo grounds once a month and has to be escorted at all times, this I was told is because he can't be trusted. but my question to the fans of this thing (wouldn't call a person that harms animals or beats women a man)is this. what will you do now that you have played your part in driving Tim Husband out, if Zion can't keep open and has to close it's gates for good? will you help find these animals a new home? or will you just keep on flogging that dead horse and keep on about bringing back the mad man that declawed his cats and fooled the TV people into thinking that he was the lion man.


Liz Clark 6 years ago

Tim was only going to stay until November as I recall guys. He is a Consultant that sorts Zoos out. He did a brilliant job of putting systems in place at ZWG and those systems are continuing as far as I am aware. The sad part is people are still going on about the issues. Nothing can be decided about the park's future until the Judge at the High Court Hearing has heard both sides then makes his decisions based on the facts placed before him. The staff at the park are more than capable of keeping the park and the welfare of the animals taken well care of - despite claims at times to the contrary. They do know what they are doing.


Helen Chavez 6 years ago

Does anyone here realise that veterinary surgeons castrate countless calves every day using nothing but a knife? This is approved veterinary practice. Does anyone notice that the majority of today's livestock breeds are the way they are because they have been inbred to accentuate certain desirable traits, such as long backs (more steak) and triple-muscled rear ends? Most domestic cat breeds are the result of the same practice, as are domestic dogs. None of this is new - get over it.

These white cats will never be able to survive in the wild. So what? They are beautiful animals, just the same.

Craig Busch, whatever his personal faults, is not a cruel man - I didn't see a damn thing in that so-called expose video that I would term 'cruel.' Female big cats will discipline their young quite harshly to keep them in line, especially lions as they are a social creaure - they live in a hierarchical society that depends on each cat knowing its own place. Anybody who has worked with not only livestock but also with large wild animals and who has any knowledge of their social structures can see that Craig Busch is extremely good at what he does, and his cats respect and are very affectionate towards him. You don't get that kind of reaction from a 300 kilo tiger by beating it.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

What you say about calves and domestic cats may well be true but 'two wrongs do not make a right'. As the rest of the reputable zoo world does not cruelly and unnecessarily declaw then why should Craig? It is totally and completely not necessary!! Unless of course you want to play Tarzan.

White Tigers...beautiful? Yes they are! Magnificent. No argument there and if they were naturally occurring Bengals then there would be a conservation point to it. Zoos should cooperate on conservation projects. As far as I am aware no reputable zoo in the world was cooperating with Craig.

Craig is a showman. Yes you are right he is extremely good at that. He is not though a conservationist or an animal person. All and anything which he does with big cats you or anyone could do. All you have to do is hand rear...and to be really safe, cut the ends of their toes off.


Helen Chavez 6 years ago

Every time you eat a steak or a lamb or pork chop you are condoning castration by a qualified vet using only a knife - as someone who has worked with livestock and big animals all her life, that is a FACT. Yes, Craig Busch IS an animal person - his attitude with the cats shouts it in every move. He knows his animals, as any instinctive stockperson does. I really don't care if conservation is an issue here - all I care about is that his animals are cared-for, understood and content. They will never survive in the wild. That's an established FACT, due to poaching more than anything else, although this naturally occuring recessive gene usually means a short life for ANY wild creature expressing it.

It is also mutilation to cut off an animal's testicles or remove its uterus, but any self-respecting pet owner does it as a matter of course. It is not essential, as a responsible pet owner can keep their animal separate from another animal of the opposite gender quite easily - we do it merely for convenience. Many neutered animals suffer from obesity. In America is is common for dogs to have their ears cropped simply because it apparently looks pretty. With a tiger that to be honest is 300 kilos of death, while I don't condone it, I can see the sense in it for safety's sake. We castrate calves for the same reason. Try working with a one-ton bull in a fit of pique - oh, and I haven't mentioned de-horning, have I? A calf has its horn buds burned off using a red-hot iron. Happens every day all over the world, because horns on a big cow is bloomin' DANGEROUS. While de-clawing isn't something I'm happy with, for goodness sake, stop all of this high-and-mighty posturing over the practice - pet owners do far worse things to their pets in the name of being responsible.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Helen - Whereas I appreciate your point of view about things you so strongly believe in... this article is about the pointless and unnecessary declawing of big cats and the fact that breeding for colour is NOT conservation. It is not about what pet owners and farmers are doing. I will therefore do all the 'high and mighty posturing' I like.

You have spent all your life with animals. So have I. I have worked in and with zoos since 1968, a lifetime for some. It is still my work.

Why is it necessary to go into an enclosure with a big cat? It isn't! Therefore it is not necessary to declaw. No safety issues involved then, even if it weighed 600 kilos. The one and only reason to go in with a big cat is to show off. Pure circus and has no place in the modern zoo.

Of course Craig's cats cannot survive in the wild. For a start the white ones are disadvantaged by colour and being clawless they could not catch and hold their prey. Having been mutilated by declawing it is doubtful that walking distances in a hunt would be very comfortable.

And no, I don't believe that Craig is an animal person. You do. Fair enough. I don't.


Helen Chavez 6 years ago

Your comment about having worked in zoos since 1968 is an interesting one. Zoos in 1968 (and yes, I can easily remember back that far) were some of the worst perpetrators of inhumane practices in the care of wild animals in captivity - and a lot of animals in zoos then WERE from the wild, not captive-bred. So therefore you have worked and earned money in that environment. The environment in which the cats live at Zion is perfectly fine, and is getting better by the day.

Now then, seeing as these cats were mostly captive bred, live in captivity and will die in captivity, what on earth makes them any different to a Dalmatian or a Clydesdale horse? Nothing. So they are bred for their colour. So what?

We've already mentioned how disadvantaged they are in the wild because of their colour - that's the way life and death is in the wild. BUT THEY DON'T LIVE THERE.

I have views on de-clawing, just as you do - I don't like the practice any more than you do, but to babble on about how they can't hunt is irrelevant. They never will. We mutilate animals kept in captivity and as domestic pets every day. And that is regarded as the responsible thing to do. I just have a problem with this double standard everyone is rattling on about. I couldn't care less that these cats are bred for their colour and not for conservation, although as far as I'm concerned any live tiger is a bonus in this world, white or otherwise.

So what if Craig Busch is a showman? If it pays the bills to keep these cats happy, fulfilled and content, then I'm perfectly okay with that. To be honest, he doesn't expect them to do very much, unlike the poor beasts we used to see in zoos 30 years ago and still see in some zoos and circuses still. This is a bandwagon that everyone and their granny is jumping upon, quite unfairly in my opinion - so why not go choose something that really matters - like saving the White Rhino or the White Sturgeon or Congo Tiger fish. They are far more worth the effort of your rants.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Helen - I am well aware of zoo history, threats to species in the wild and the mess our earth is in. I do 'rant' about other issues as well.

As I stated before... this article is about Craig Busch and mutant cats. It is not about other species in danger.

It is obvious you have a little grasp of breeding and conservation but fail to see the overall long term picture of what good zoos are about. I would suggest you read the World Zoo Conservation Strategy and address the why it is necessary to declaw big cats that it is unnecessary to go in with.

You are right conditions for the cats at Zion have improved. Contraceptive implants have been put in and so stop pointless breeding. All the declawing has stopped. Staff have stopped going into enclosures with the cats. An effort is being made to raise sufficient funds to partially repair the damage done by declawing and so improve the long term health. Last but not least the overall morale amongst the staff has improved by the absence of Craig.

You are right. Since 1968 I have seen huge changes in the zoo world. Happily within the good zoos these have been for the better. I have dedicated my life (and yes I have been paid) to improving conditions for animals and training some remarkable staff. I have nothing that I feel guilty about. I would though if I had been involved with declawing!

You have said your piece. The discussion is over.


William 6 years ago

I am torn between Mr Busch. I followed all 3 of his series, under the belief he was looking after these cats perfectly. On reading your article, I thought it ludicrous and, sorry, I thought you were stupid. However, reading your article again, it clicked. Busch is ignorant, and an idiot. I believe when he was given the chance of being employed by Mr Holland as a worker, he was being given a golden chance. But, he threw that away, by acting as though he was still the owner. He was doing a good thing in some areas, but the majority of his actions were inappropriate. I am still a follower of him, but I value your points Peter. Just to add, I think he is not a cruel man, but was over involved in the declawing of the animals, and was ignorant to the stupidity of the vet. Thankyou


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Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks William. You are right that the vet was stupid to carry out the declawing. Sadly vets do not know all things and he should have investigated the issue before blindly carrying out the declawing on Craig Busch's instructions.


Ryan 6 years ago

you talk a load of crap and need to get a life so leave Craig Busch alone he giving these big cats a good and safe life to live a you should respect that if not then your just a loser


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Ryan - If you actually cared about the cats then your opinion may be a little more informed. Yout hero worship just puts you into the flock with the other sheeple. Read the facts


huntress 6 years ago

Peter, I would like to say thank you. Your article on the declawing of these animals and the purposful breeding of genetic defects (colour defects) has opened my eyes.

Who could be cruel enough to cripple an animal in such a way? In the wild big cats rely on their claws for many things, gripping prey, balance and traction for walking, stalking and hunting. Even in captivity these cats use their claws for these things. To take their basic 'tools' away is pointless.

As to breeding them for colours, its pointless. And in my opinion totally irrelevant. The white tiger, beautiful to look at, is a throw back of a mutant gene. Like the black siamese kittens, which are frequently hidden when the litter is shown to gain a better price for the 'normal' colouring, they are an accident of birth. Hence the rarity in the wild. Basically the white tiger is unfortunatly a defect in the gene pool. Thats a fact, like all creatures there are defects, albinos crop up all across the world.

As to the Craig issue... well to allow the deliberate mutilation of so many animals is wrong, but to order it? That's cruel and shows a lack of regard for the animals it is inflicted on.

As many who have commented above seem to forget, the issue is not whether Craig is a bad or good person, the courts will decide that, but whether his practice of declawing the big cats in his care was really needed! Or the deliberate inbreeding to gain 'pretty' colours was in the cats best interest!

Would you all personally encourage your friends to breed with their cousins to get a child with dark hair? Or blue eyes? Or to get a blonde haired child? No you wouldn't you would be horrified and disgusted to even suggest it. To inbreed a small gene pool is asking for genetic problems, mutations of body and temperment, and health issues. Ok you might get some pretty colours to look at but is it ethical to risk the offsprings future wellfare? In my book no it is not.

I say well done Peter for being brave enough to bring this to our attention and I hope to see many more people supporting you and others who stand up and speak out about what they see as an injustice and hope more people will do the same.


John 6 years ago

Peter - your comments on other pages regarding Thai prostitutes so much reveals your character. It is totally disgusting. I cannot believe that you have the gall to criticise another human being.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you huntress - I appreciate it when people actually read before commenting. You make valid points.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

John - I was unaware that I was at any point criticising Thai prostitutes either anywhere in this article or anywhere else. Far from it I believe that Thai working girls are the salt of the earth. Honest, caring and loving people and amongst my best friends. So no I am not criticising them, I defend them. If you have actually made the effort to read my other articles then have you bothered to read the critiques on other zoos? Probably not, preferring to try and dig up dirt on me. I am not ashamed of anything I have written or done. If I was I certainly would not have written about it. Please read the article above, follow up the references, learn about the cruelty of declawing and non conservation breeding. Read how it is totally unnecessary to go in with big cats. Read, learn, check and don't be like the rest of the Craig sheeple.


Joe 6 years ago

Hi Peter

The post above from John is on CB Facebook page.. he seems to be a troll who just appeared and i looking to cause more trouble.


KeithTax profile image

KeithTax 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Thanks for the small inside look into zoos. The animals you picture are beautiful. Anytime I travel, I check out the zoo; it is a must.

The comments are lively, with some disagreeing with you. I can't lean either way. My experience is too limited. I still enjoyed this very informative article.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Keith Tax


Liz  6 years ago

Well Peter I see yet again there are attacks going on. You wrote this post over three months ago and yet...the attacks on you are still going on. It tells me a lot there. Despite all these people who are fans of Mr Busch calling you stupid and full of crap you are not. It seems you've raised the ire once more on the Facebook Fanpage fortunately the link this time was not posted. Peter all the best for the New Year and have a fantastic 2010.


Birdie 6 years ago

Oh my goodness, how can "one man" who has been separated it seems from the big cats by the misfortune of bad judgement in whom he could trust not to cause him grief when he falls on hard times he has never claimed to be a Zoo keeper, neither has he ever to my knowledge claimed to be an expert but the title of "big cat handler" has been bestowed upon him owing to the fact that he has had some years of experience with cats - both small and large, he has also called his park a wildlife gardens.

I have to say that; if he wanted to share his life with these animals by way of a "very popular TV show" to an animal loving public in order to be in a position to actually feed these animals, then what may I ask is wrong with that?

Is it not a fact that the lions and Tigers he keeps are few in number on this planet due to man hunting them down for money and trophies? The numbers in Bengal Tigers being killed on almost a daily basis and the manner in which they are killed is sickening, why can you not direct your disgust for animal abuse at that? Link below……

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=profile&id.../group.php?gid=134683023560&ref=mf

I really can not understand why one man who stands alone, though famous, because he is admired for his bravery in fulfilling something we can only dream about, can come in for so much flack and conversely have the following of some very strangely over active fans mostly female and in the main from the UK more than likely because the person running his fan club is also from the UK, oh yes and let's not forget the sly over active haters too!

Peter, you have your opinion of Craig Busch and your information is way to narrow as you have not looked at him with any sympathy or liking of any sort, that doesn't bother me at all and your being attacked by the cult members here just as I have been on my FB pages for having a mind of my own and not wishing to follow the leaders of cult worship on both sides of the coin. I don't really care anymore but just wonder why he stirs up so much emotion for trying to live out his dream? He's not making any money out of it is he, in fact his fan club says he needs money and on the other end the ZWG say they need money too! So if he wants to breed Tigers and Lions and as long as he does this in the proper way what the hell is wrong with that, however I will say that I do not agree with removing young from parents solely to hand raise them unless they were given every chance and were rejected by the parents!

As to de-clawing - it is something that has gone on in the past and is thankfully now becoming a thing of the past and none of us even knew it ever existed before all of this, yet, suddenly everyone is an expert?! = O

What is concerning me is how a lioness died at the park recently under it's new management and no formal statement of an autopsy has been given some weeks on. I'm no expert but when any of my birds die I do know that an autopsy does not take more than a few days by experienced hands.

Peter you have a right to your opinion and do not deserve to be abused by anyone but neither does Craig Busch for simply loving his big cat dream.

As you can see being in the public eye brings with it a whole bunch of interest in what you say especially if it's not balanced and by that I am also speaking of the assaults on you here along with those who seem to be soft-soaping you too!

By the way I have read your article before you ask.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Liz, and all the best for 2010 for you and your family.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

John - I have not approved your comment, not because it is rude but because you are commenting on other articles which, like this one, you have skimmed over without actually reading.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank You Birdie - You have read the article. Fair enough. I stand by all I have written and have always been prepared to change my mind. There has been absolutely nothing presented to me so far that has caused me to consider a revision of my opinion.


Brett 6 years ago

I have been a long term supporter of Craig Busch and therefore may have a tainted view of him and his work. However, having read your article and the response by Jill on the Lionman FB page and having read all the articles and MAF reports and supporting evidence and the ZWG website and FB page etc etc etc I now have a more questions than answers.

But the one fact that I cannot condone and will never forgive is that Craig was the initial person behind the declawing of these animals. Shame, shame, shame. As far as the breeding of what you call "freaks in the name of conservation" is concerned, I can't see the harm. If, even in small way, it brings to the public eye the plight of the "normal" animals in the wild then it can only do good especially as the current management has ceased the breeding program. It must be remembered that there are "normal" coloured animals in the park too and NZers do not have many places they can go see these animals and therefore can't get to terms with how magnificent these animals are and how worthwhile are the conservation efforts that are continuing around the world.


Claire 6 years ago

I have also watched many episodes of the 'Lion Man' in the UK. Whilst I do not have the experience and expertise with zoological stock of fellow contributors, several things about the series struck me as odd: The amount of 'hands on' contact; the interference in birthing; the number of cubs rejected by their mother; small, barren enclosures; the numerous 'disapearances' of park staff/the vet over time etc. The declawing certainly explains why Busch wasn't injured whenever one of the cats 'swiped' at him and it's certainly not a practice I condone. It amazes me that the vet didn't research the procedure himself if he was unfamiliar with it.

It seems to me that Busch genuinely cares for these animals, but does not possess the knowledge required to care for them to the standards of modern, reputable zoos. His love for them and of handling them undoubtedly influenced his way of caring for them, but ultimately, whether he realised it or not, such practices were in his interest, not those of the cats. An earlier description of ZWG as 'a hobby that got out of control' does seem very apt. Working with animals in this way seems to be all that he knows and I think he genuinely believes that he is acting in their best interests. However, he also seems naïve in his financial/business dealings, as well as his personal conduct. Violence against others is never condonable, but I think if I'd found my partner in the same situation I'd have tried something similar!

Thank you, Peter [D] for an intelligent article - unlike many on this subject, it did not 'slander' either party but set out your opinions in a knowledgeable, factual way. I wish other people posting comments on this Forum could show each other the same respect.


Birdie 6 years ago

Peter thanks for your polite reply. I would ask if you have actually watched the entire Lion Man series one, two and three without hate in your heart but a respectful interest in this man and what you see on screen especially having been a zoo keeper yourself - I would be interested to know how you found him.

By the way I am not here to sway your opinion either way - it's up to you what you want to believe when you have weighed up all the evidence and believe me it's not easy by a long chalk Peter especially when you have the nasty bunch attacking you but what you have to live with "if" your wrong is the damage you do to someone that little needs this when he has been suffering a great deal. I can not imagine how I would feel if my mother did this to me can you.

The MAF in my opinion did not take the right action as they were in receipt of evidence that Craig had given them previously to the sacking of the circumstances he was being forced to work under, why did they wait then till after so many years; to take the licence and give it to someone new Glen Holland because a minority shareholder who only got the shares through arriving at an opportune time in events and rather cheekily removed the main owner in the park, were the MAF not there at the operations being performed were they not at the park each year investigating previously when they granted a licence in the years before to Craig so were they so incapable to put two and two together, I don‘t think so do you? Seems like they hoped the s*** that had hit the fan about de-clawing and their part in it would be best served to hang blame on Craig and wipe their hands clean, also the Employment Tribunal was a sickening injustice to ignore the facts i.e. It is his park, his animals, his hard graft and his staff that money and cunning snatched out of his hands and when that's done by the ones you love it's a distasteful blow below the belt. I do believe that Craig is a dyslexic from what I have read and could not have understood to well what the contract drawn up by his mum was actually saying but his mother knew what it said she put it together I believe as an attorney, this is all stuff in the media and available to read.

It’s sad when a family breaks up and Craig has been through the break up of his parents and now the break up of relations with his partner Karen and then his Mum and Sister - he has also been separated from his beloved cats that he clearly loves dearly. There are always those who love to feed of others misery and they should remember what goes around comes around.


Birdie 6 years ago

Just as I said here comes the cult leader to start another fight here and to pollute yet another site but never under her own name; I am not interested in boring hormonal rubbish, why, because I have a life and a balanced way of living, I am not the hysterical one who drove miles and in the snow too to see a man I have never met before, so where and what was I doing whilst the visit took place; at home minding my own business and my birds at my sanctuary and yes in the UK though I would rather be in NZ so that I could pay a visit to one or two places of interest.

Oh and for the record Sam21/Jill face book did not censor me for harassment, it was much the other way around but I know I am missed and guess what I will not be back or support your crazy ramblings.


Birdie 6 years ago

Peter you said above, "Euthanasia in a vets hands can be a kind and efficient procedure. Not so in the hands of Mr 'Do It Yourself' Craig Busch." What on earth do you mean by this?

I have started to compile some records of the cats at ZWG births deaths and litters along with one other person also but can not find any inbreeding apart from the Barbary Lions Shia and Zion about 10 years old - who were brother and sister Shia now dead recently in the care of Tim, and the offspring of Samson now dead from old age, so if you know something I don't please enlighten me for my records??


Jill 6 years ago

I do not wish to become involved in this debate. Please note for the record I have not posted previously on this thread under any other name as stated above. Birdie, I am not sure what you mean regards inbreeding and Zion and Shia, they have never been mated as they were brother and sister, as you say. Shia died after Tim had left, I think you will find. Patricia Busch is now the MAF Operator of ZWG. Thank you


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Brett - Thank you. You are right. White cats are a crowd puller and it is an argument used by other holders. I have no problem with it as long as they are not dressed up as rare or endangered or as contributing to conservation. Craig had the the fantastic opportunity to really do something for the cats of the world but didn't. None of the cats in Zion, as far as I am aware is on a studbook, international or otherwise and so not in any recognised breeding programme.

I am delighted that the situation has changed since Craig left and the collection is now being managed professionally.

The cats as prsently held are magnificent and regardless of colour are there and I hope that they have long, happy and painless lives.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Claire - Thank you. I would like to wish you and the big cats at Zion a very happy new year.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Birdie - My article is essentially about three issues. The unnecessary cruelty of declawing. The total unnecessary activity of going in with cats. And the fact that these cats were being promoted as rare, endangered and something special when not a single one was contributing to the worlds conservation efforts. As to the 'euthanasia'. I believe that the procedure is kinder by lethal injection than by the methods I saw described on other forums. You will need to do your own research there.


Joe 6 years ago

I just dont understand how all this has come back up on CB wall??

Birdie is a bit of a loose cannon and i know she is not welcome on ZWG or CB Page...

Peter I hope you had a great Xmas and i wish you a real happy new year... Keep up the good work and i look forward to reading more of your blogs in the future..


Birdie 6 years ago

Joe/Jill I think you will find that you and your following are the ones not welcome on my walls and with good reason and I have not the slightest inclination of having anything to do with a bunch of cult worshipers who have lost all sense of reason and reality.

The facts are you don't like it when this loose cannon (I like that it’s very apt indeed) asks questions of those who have a lot to say for themselves and who rain abuse on the level headed.

Whilst Shia and Zion were related with no cubs Samson however I was under the impression an inbreed do you have proof that he was not then - I would indeed find this interesting for my records too and I only keep them out of interest in the inbreeding issues of big cats.

Jill you say "I do not wish to become involved in this debate."

Yet here you are and someone said you had been entering this debate from "your" FB page for Craig with some strong verbal d****** directed at Peter!! This in turn has sent your "friends" here from your discussion page on FB to make nasty comments once again to anyone you decide is not down at your level. (Jill you knew where they would go and what they would do)

You clearly must know what Peter is referring to about ""Euthanasia in a vets hands can be a kind and efficient procedure. Not so in the hands of Mr 'Do It Yourself' Craig Busch." yet you make no comment of this on your information to his fans as this has come up in more than a few conversations now but when I ask what they are referring to there is a wall of silence. Come on Jill why is that do you actually know or are you choosing not to say?

Oh and Joe/Sam21 fakes however can't say it's nice to see you here but good to see your using your own name Jill to direct a comment at me instead of about me!

Since when did Pat become a MAF operator for ZWG I was under the impression that she had been granted a licence in place of Tim when he left “after Shia died” in accordance with information generally known on the net.

So here we go on a fencing mission again Jill as you have little else to do with your time, I mean why are you so obsessed with Craig - I do believe you have a husband with a boat diving business and bed and breakfast dealings to contend with or is that not very busy - I don't see Craig giving you licence to say whatever you want to about him or for him and his business, where is that in writing can we have some proof of your employment as head chef and bottle washer?

When will you disclose to the fans what the funds stand at in donations and sales and how much is your cut in this if your getting anything that is apart from the sales at NZ Fred online shop. Jill what exactly is your interest in ZWG and Craig since you arrived in NZ was it the pretty big cats cubs or the man and his business sense, which?

Peter I understand where your coming from and I will have to make some effort to find said information if I can be bothered, as I find it very hard to believe that he would physically harm any animal deliberately - but I keep an open mind on all things, and hate any form of animal abuse or those who would cover it up, if indeed it existed in this case, since there are so many with little to do with their time but to spread maligning nonsense about anyone, to call attention to themselves as great knowledge givers to those seekers of gossip!


Luluanne 6 years ago

Hi Peter. I've only recently discovered the Lionman programme and today heard about the problems with Craig Busch and the park. I've spent most of the day researching this and have now discovered your hub and all the comments (and yes, I sat and read it all). I had no intention of joining the fray but I must take issue on one point. I've just read that the vet declawed the animals because Mr Busch told him it was 'standard practice'. If a qualified veterinary surgeon fell for that then there's something dreadfully wrong. I'm a teacher and would never be employed again if I did some of the things the parents ask! A properly qualified and licensed vet who acted on something he was told by an animal owner/keeper without knowing OR FINDING OUT the implications or legalities is not someone I'd employ, would you? It's about time all involved took responsibility for their part in this debacle


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Luluanne - I agree with you. The vet is at fault...big time!! That said vets are expected to know all things from how to trear Koi to Tarantulas and frogs to apes and quite frankly it is a lot to know. I can imagine in a New Zealand standard vet practice it is treating dogs and cats and farm animals. If a customer has lions and tigers and presents an air of expertise (some TV stars can be very convincing) and states that declawing is standard practice and that they have sought advice from the USA then it would be easy to be taken in. I am not for a second offering a defence, it is just how I can see it could be done.

I am not a vet. I have been working in zoos for a long time though and I have, during my career, advised vets the best way to ago about things on occasion. A good vet always asks for advice from the people who actually work with the animals be it dog or cat or horse or lion.


Luluanne 6 years ago

I take your point but still feel that there is NO defence for a vet who does something he/she knows to be illegal, morally wrong or cruel. I don't know enough about Craig Busch to comment with any confidence but, having watched the programme, it's clear he loves the animals. An animal doesn't respect someone who doesn't care for it. If he had mistreated the animals I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have been able to kiss and hug them


Luluanne 6 years ago

I also think it's wrong to bring the assault charges into this. Having lived with domestic violence I have no time for men who hit women (or, for that matter, women who hit men!) but if you come home and find your partner in bed with 2 other people I can understand it would be hard to hold it together. Why can't anyone take responsibility for their actions nowadays?


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Luluanne - As I stated above I am not defending the vet for a second but just showing how things can and do work

I actually skimmed over the assault charges (you have written more about it in your comments than I did in my article and although you condemn it you excuse it also) but they are relevant to the way people treat animals and to why he was asked to leave the park. Do a bit of research there if you don't believe me. As to the assault I think if you research deeper you may find all was not as you believe it to be. You have to look beyond the TV programme to real life.

Some of the people who use their dogs for fighting treat them terribly but sometimes kiss and hug them. The dogs, sadly, often still love and respect them. Not quite the same I know as I am sure Craig was never ever as cruel and nor would I suggest it. It does though make a point about animals.


Luluanne 6 years ago

Hi Peter. I understand you were not excusing or defending the vet, I was simply stating my belief that many people are acting as if the vet's behaviour was exemplary and Mr Busch was completely at fault. The vet should know his/her job sufficiently to know whether something is acceptable. I don't care how it works. It's a simplistic point I know but if something is unacceptable you don't do it!!

I take issue with your point about the assault charge. I didn't mean to imply that YOU were making a big thing of the assault, sorry if that's how it came across. I mean that many people are bringing it up as part of this case. I am neither condemning NOR excusing his behaviour on this point. A person who hits their partner for no reason, because they've had a bad day, are drunk or any other non-reason should be condemned...I have no sympathy and would accept no excuses. However, I watched my sister cheating on her husband, hitting him with a weapon and then crying 'wifebeater' when he lost his temper and hit her back. Real domestic violence is, for example, when you're fast asleep in bed and your partner comes in drunk and decides it's time to give you a good kicking for absolutely NO REASON. Nobody condemned me for fighting back when my partner attacked me but my brother-in-law was vilified for hitting back because she was a woman. We all need to get a grip and accept that women are not a breed apart, we can't do whatever we like and then cry 'poor me' when it comes back on us. If I'd been in bed, semi-naked, with other people when my partner came home I would have understood why he lost his temper. Having read some of the case reports it doesn't seem as if Craig beat Karen. What I've read so far stated that he dragged her out of bed by her hair then came back in and pushed her over (I'm being simplistic again I know) I know this resulted in injury but is anyone seeing what I'm saying here? There are many degrees of grey in between black and white. Further to this long, rambling, overdone point of mine, is the fact that my ex-partner was always wonderful with our cats. He would never have hurt them and cried like a baby when one of them died. I really think it's wrong to suggest that because this man hurt his partner UNDER SEVERE PROVOCATION, he may mistreat his cats. I really don't know enough about it to say he did or didn't treat them badly but the two things are separate issues and should be treated as such. I also take your point about dog fighting but would point out that love and respect do not necessarily go hand in hand. Having been involved (in a small way) with rehabilitating these dogs I would suggest that it is far more complicated. It's the same with abused kids. They'll still love but will never truly respect their abusers.

I am still researching as this case has caught my attention but repeat that from what I've SEEN so far, I can't believe many of the allegations (although I'm reserving final judgment until I am better informed)


storminaddcup profile image

storminaddcup 6 years ago from United Kingdom

Apologies if I am repeating anything that's been written, but I gave up reading half way down the page. I gave up because I am incensed at some of the posts here, seemingly all from the UK, where people are sticking up for Craig Busch and demanding his return to Zion.

I became aware of Zion and Busch thanks to the Lion Man series and soon became hooked, in fact I think I've seen every one. I loved Busch's obvious passion for the cats but there was always a little niggling voice at the back of my mind saying "this seems very odd, the guy doesn't appear to have any qualified experience, would a trained keeper do that?".

I have no doubt that Busch loves cats, but loving something doesn't necessarily mean you know how to look after it. I love big cats and dream of being able to stroke one, even play with it like Busch, but at the end of the day I understand they are wild creatures and can flip in a second. Hell, I get attacked by my own 'domestic' cats on a regular basis and they're only tiny!

My opinion is this; Peter and the others have done us a service by bringing the story to our attention. I did not know Busch had been sacked, I did not know the cats had been declawed. After reading everything that has gone on, those animals have not been properly looked after and our focus should be on the WELFARE OF THE CATS. I don't care who runs that park as long as the person that does run it looks after the animals as they should be looked after. And I believe that if a person fails in their chosen duty of looking after animals, especially animals that need conserving, then they should not be allowed to look after animals ever again. This should not be about Craig Busch being good or bad, this should be all of us wanting to ensure those wonderful creatures are cared for and treated with respect, so stop with all the petty posts saying that we should stop 'having a go' at a man who DID fail to care for the cats.

Peter, well done and thank you for opening my eyes and giving me the initiative to do research of my own.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you for your comment storminaddcup


Lincslass 6 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

I do not normally comment on things like this but having read everything would like to add a few comments of my own.

I know very little about wild animal care, but I do have some common sense. I have watched the TV programme here in the UK and like many was impressed with the "conservation" angle. Although I did have some concerns, having watched other similar programs, the hands on approach bothered me, the lack of "enrichment" the animals seemed to have in their pens was at odds with other programms, enrichment seems to be a big thing for other zoo's and parks as opposed to "petting"

The de-clawing is awful and only necessary because of the hands on approach - which in itself is unnessecary.

I wonder what people are thinking when adding they're thoughts, one person on here wrote that Craig could not be a wife beater as she had met him and he is a lovely charming man. My ex-husband was a really charming man (4 wives can vouch for that), and after he put me in hospital, I lost count of the number of people who believed him not me, he even went on to marry a non-believer, who believes me now.

There is a reason it is against the law for brothers and sisters to have a relationship, and you only have to look at some of the genetic problems many dog breeds have to know the genetic damage such breeding can and does cause.

If what you say is true, then Craig Busch needs to be controlled, I do not doubt he loves the cats, but he needs to learn how to respect them for what they are.

A very interesting and informative article. I shall now follow the story with interest.

Lincslass


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank You Lincslass - You mention the 'conservation'. Sad but true but unless there is in an official national or international breeding programme there is no conservation.


Rogue2009 6 years ago

Peter, I have to say that was a very thought provoking post and I have read it all, the good and the bad, I have watched the Lion Man a few times and only to confirm to myself that something wasn't quite 'right' as other's have commented, I also understand The Lion Man's follower's as I have myself commented on posts without the full facts, and I am ashamed to admit being a nature lover and not realising the history behind the white tiger....but trust me this week i've read everything I can on them :) Anyway thank you for still replying to posts 3+ months after your original or I wouldn't have been able to educate myself more on your subject and the other's that have been posted. Thank you


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Rogue2009 - Thank you for the comment. It was never my intention to cause trouble but simply to educate. Sadly I stirred up a nest of hornets. Happily some people, like yourself, have looked deeper and done their own research. I appreciate that this can go both ways and I accept that. I am and always have been prepared to change my mind on any subject as new factual information becomes available.


Emmz 6 years ago

I know Craig personally and frequently visited the park when he was in charge. ZWG was an amazing place with Craig at the helm. For the people who commented on the lack of greenery in the cats enclosures that is because he was building a much larger area where they could roam but still ensure their safety. I have been astonished to read all bad comments about him. The park has slipped in standard since he left, including the two tragic deaths. Thank you for Reading my opinion.


Brightyone 6 years ago

Thank you Peter for your well informed and very detailed article. I have sat here and read your article, the links and every comment.

I do not know Craig Busch and I have never had anything to do with Zion or his documentary / show.

I am however visiting NZ next year and I was interested in the animal tours etc that Zion offer, which lead me to various articles regarding Zion and the vast array of problems there. This left me with a delema as to whether or not visit Zion.

To say that I am physically sickened and appalled by de-clawing does not cover it. To say that I am horrified that Craig was overseeing the care and needs of these beautiful animals does not begin to describe how sick I feel when I think of it, however my comment is not to enter into the Craig loving debate which appears to have sadly come from your thorough and complete investigations, which I clearly see was not your intent.

I am still however a tad torn between visiting Zion, however leaning towards doing so, purely because these poor animals have been through hell already, which by the sounds of it has ceased, and to not visit would be doing them even more injustice.

In any case, I cannot thank you enough for your research and the comments from people who are actually educated.

May Craig never come into contact with another animal again.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Brightyone - Thank you for your comment. If I was you I would not hesitate in visiting Zion. The cats are beautiful and it is not their fault that things have happened as they have.

There is a good and dedicated professional team in place now doing there best in spite of the flak they are getting from Craigs fans.

The best intentions are there for the cats. There will no longer be any declawing or unnecessary entering of enclosures. No more pretences at conservation where none existed and no more reproduction of mutations. All efforts now are in offering education, a good day out and trying to ensure the cats have long, happy and healthy lives.


trix26 profile image

trix26 6 years ago from Australia

Hey Peter!

I'm not going to pretend I have researched this immensely. I am a passionate cat lover who at this stage makes regular donations to wolf and big cat sanctuaries and strive to one day live in Africa to study lions for conservation purposes.

I have an absolute drive inside that makes me want to be close with wild animals (which i don't necessarily believe is a natural, responsible nor necessary thing) & thus seeing Craig with his cats pulled on my heart strings at first. It was easy to be sucked in. I don't deny for one second that he didnt truely love his cats, however his love turned into an obssession and instead of focusing on what was essentially best for the cats, he revelled in how the cats made him feel when he was close to them. Being so close to the cats was probably unnecassary, however correct me if im wrong, waching the series i thought that his overall plan was to breed all the species of cat over a long period of time, gradually building and extending his sanctuary so that one day they were able to breed the lions to rehabilitate the species back into the wild.. He knew that the animsls he already had were never going to be able to be released (for obvious human contact reasons as well as poaching & loss of habitat reasons) & thus he thought he was looking forward to future possibilties. What he didnt think about was the fact that he was creating genetic mutations and animals with recessive and weak genetic material. If released, nature would play its part in natural selection & these breeds would most likely fail to pro-create in the wild.

He DID also have i think 8?? lions in a different enclosure called "The Wild Pride", which he never handled. But the enclosure was tiny and definitely not suitable for that many fully grown lions...especially males.

I remember when he was talkig to the original daktari.. Rose??? She was trying to give him advice on raising awareness about cat conservation and the power that Craig now had to show the world what a difference we can make. He didnt take any of it in. Instead he basically blew her off and said that that wasnt necessary. The more i think about it, the more i can see he was in it for his own selfish need to be close with the cats.

Declawing is inhumane and cruel, and Peter you're right when you say there is no reason for hands on contact & thus no reason to declaw.

He doesnt have a talent or any special ability with cats. He had love for them and could understand them & had the opportunity to hand-rear them. Anyone who had that experience with the cats would have been just as close with them.

Overall i think he is a man who started off with good intentions that turned into a cat greedy & obssessed man who had the world at his feet, but lost it all.

Maybe if Craig had formal quals/ and some experience behind him, he could have used his love & power for good, instead of playing god.


jmac80 6 years ago

While I can agree on 95% of information on Craig Busch. The place is far better with him not there. He probably should be serving jail time or at least out of the business.

I do though disagree on the value of white tigers and their role in conservation. At Dreamworld in Australia they have now donated 1.2 million to insitu conservation. This money has largely been raised from activities (photo sessions, walks, etc) with their tigers. This is the real value of captive tigers.

Captive breeding programs are not about to release tigers back into the wild. The value of captive tigers is in their ability to educate and more importantly to create funding opportunities for on the ground efforts.

Most zoos have hung their hats for too long on captive breeding programs without the taking the next step and actually doing something important to funding conservations efforts.

White tigers can have a role of used correctly in these efforts.


lucycat1 6 years ago

i was an avid watcher of the lionman,there were indicators in the programme when sometimes the lions or tigers would flinch as if they were expecting to be hit.declawing is a barbaric practice and if you purchase a pedigree cat it says it should never be done so i cannot understand the vet not questioning the practice.i agree with most of what you said apart from not breeding white lions or tigers as they are as much a part of nature as the normal sandy or orange ones.i know from research that white tigers are genetically different to the orange ones because of the way they react coming around from anesthetic and can react differently to medications etc.but as long as they are bred from a varied gene pool surely there can be no harm in that.i think no matter what you or other people say craig will always have his followers but whatever he is guilty of he should still be able to have some contact with the animals, as they must be very confused over what has happened as most animals like continuity in their lives.i know that even when i go away for a holiday my cats fret an play up.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

lucycat1- Thank you for your comment. I agree that the occassional white tiger and lion ARE as much part of nature as are normal coloured ones IF they naturally occur in the wild . Here though I am talking about deliberate captive crossing of brother to sister and mother to son and in the case of the tigers, introducing Siberian genes into a Bengal bloodline. This is NOT nature and the lie is compounded by promotion of such animals as a species and a rare endangered one to boot.

You are right too that Craig will always have his fans. He has a rare hypnotic charm which mesmerises many so that they believe anything he tells them. Along with this many also believe that the TV series they watched was real life, instead of a very clever exercise in commercialism and self promotion.

The cats will get over not seeing him. Animals do.


jmac80 6 years ago

lucycat1- Craig Busch does not deserve to work in the animal industry. He has not worked with any of the cats at Zion Wildlife in a year or longer. The cats are not fretting.

He has done little to nothing to support conservation, declawed scores of cats,and driven the park to severe financial hardship. Probably only the tip of the iceberg

I watched the entire first series and cringed at the facts presented and his general presentation style.


lucycat1 6 years ago

hi peter,i havent got back on this as i have had swine flu part of the joys of mother hood.

the main point i was trying to raise about the breeding of white tigers and lions is its alright as you said if they come from a varied gene pool.

years ago i used to be a fan of the zoo vet books by David Taylor when wild animal husbandry was in its infancy that is where i heard about the differences in the reaction to drugs that the white cats had .i know i have a white blue eyed cat that reacts to meds differently to the others.

i would have assumed that the cats were declawed at a young age but there are ways of stopping cats from scratching and biting by positive reinforcement .this being where you reward the animal for good behaviour as opposed to punishment.

what does the future hold for these unfortunate animals will they always be kept at zion or will some be moved to be part of a breeding program to reintroduce some of the more endangered species .

the main critisim i have with zwp is their tribute board where they pay tribute to Dalu and the tiger that killed him.even craig seemed sadder by the fact that the cat had been killed more then the poor keeper.

looking again at some of the programs you can see very clever editing and also that the tiger/lion cubs had claws also it seemed that even by the time gandor got there he had no claws particulary noticable after he came out of quarantine.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

lucy - breeding white lions and/or tigers is pointless. They are no conservation value at all regardless of how varied the gene pool is...for these animals the pool is very shallow. They are all related. The tiger pool is polluted with other subspecies of tiger and the lions are only a novelty to line some iresponsible breeders pocket.

David Taylor is a long time friend of mine. Great guy. I learned a lot from him.

I hope the cats at Zion get the opportunity to live out their natural lives as comfortably as possible. They are a testament, an example as to what should NOT be done. I hope that they are never allowed to breed and add to the lie that it is conservation. It is not.


jmac80 6 years ago

I havre to disagree on a point about white tigers. They do have conservation value in that they have the potential, if used correctly, to raise awareness of important conservation issues in situ as well as being able to raise valuable funds for projects.

In Australia, dreamworld has spent funds of over 1.2 million dollars to date on projects in Sumatra, Russia, and India. These funds were raised in part off the backs of the white tigers at that establishment.

Let us not kid ourselves into thinking that captive programs will ever repopulate the wild. Zoos that keep program animals in many cases "hang their hats" on that commitment without supporting in situ conservation.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

jmac80 - Thank you for your comment. I know just the point you are making and I do agree. The real issue with white tigers is promoting them as a 'rare endangered species' rather than something that has been deliberately produced through breeding closely together related animals together and mixing in a bit of other subspecies to add to the size and pelage. True enough 'White' is a draw but then so are the other tiger mutations which some collections strive to produce.

Dreamworld. There is no denying that they have raised money for projects in the wild. Interesting to note that they have now stopped breeding white tigers. One wonders why if they were previously so important as fundraisers. They could have equally raised funds from tiger subspecies in genuine need of aid and in programmes which needed captive space.

I admit to being a bit of a pessimest as far as reintroductions go but if and when then it happens white tigers would not figure in my choices. Nobody is kidding themselves that reintroduction is just around the corner. Established breeding programmes try to build upon a gentically viable population which could be used a hundred years from now. I don't believe that the collections that have committed themselves to such programmes have hung their hats there. Good Zoos do support in situ conservation


jmac80 6 years ago

You are right that good zoos do support in situ conservation. My point is that many of these institutions substitute the promotion of their support for program species for what actually matters.

Dreamworld has not stopped breeding of non-program animals it is just difficult in Australia with so few choices. They also want to support the program as well.

There are so few founder animals with Sumatrans and are starting to have issues with breeding too closely related animals.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks jmac80 - Did not Australia Zoo recently import a number of Sumatrans from Taman Safari in exchange for Kangaroos? Are they being included in the Australasian programme?


jmac80 6 years ago

Yes they are.


Michael Thomas 6 years ago

Peter continually talks about looking at the facts of his report in actual fact to an outsider there appears to be few. The aim and objective of this report also appears to be an attack against Craig Busch, rightly or wrongly, it seems difficult to tell to be honest.

The report into declawing also seems quite unclear and appears to criticise the MAF moreso than Mr Busch, although does "appear" (due to names being blacked out) accuse Craig of being involved in the initiation of declawing.

I do think your article somewhat misses the point and leaves me all a bit confused.

Firstly, the animals are no longer in the wild and Busch clearly has no intention of putting the animals back into the wild from my personal experience (correct me if im wrong). So the whole process seems an economic one to me. He breeds the animals but has no intention of putting them into unconfined conditions, so why breed them? To show the public, morally very questionable to me.

I can't understand how the tv series is still commissioned, if this has occurred and if as you and many others have implied that Craig Busch is manipulating the public why is the series continually being shown?

For the series to go ahead surely countless safety aspects and inquiries must have occurred prior and whilst it was being filmed. Did declawing not arise whilst filming from 2003-2005 when the report says that declawing was carried out?

And is it any coincidence that the report coinsides with the tragic death of Dalu and Abu?

Why was the declawing investigation only carried out by 2009?!! I mean its a National Park for gods sake surely its not something that easy to hide.

This all seems very difficult to decide without being involved at Zion itself so unless you do know the man himself or have been largely involved in working at Zion i find it unbelievable how you can categorically "choose sides" as is happening on here.

Another thing about blogs and all these articles on here and elsewhere, my advice is be careful with them you don't know necessarily who and where they are coming from and anyone can write one, and that is a fact.

Finally from watching the tv series, reading this and other articles and the report into declawing, it doesn't seem very clear whatsoever. One thing i do know is that the tv series was and is a revelation and is shown in many many countries and therefore must be creating large revenue from that alone. Conversely his own mother removed Craig from working with the animals and the report criticises the Zion park whilst under Craigs control for alledged declawing but seems to highly criticise the MAF.

Wouldn't like to be a judge on this one!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Michael Thomas - Thank you for your comments. My article is essentially about three issues. The unnecessary cruelty of declawing. The total unnecessary activity of going in with cats and lastly the fact that these cats were being promoted as rare, endangered and something special when not a single one was contributing to the worlds conservation efforts. The article goes on to explain why I believe these issues to be true. Even if I were to provide no links or references it would not change a thing. Personally I have no problem whatsoever 'choosing sides'. What was going on with these three issues was wrong.


Michael Thomas 6 years ago

Before any of that you start by talking about 2 previous assualts and his mother fearing of the same occurring, about bullying and i could go on. I don't see what any of this has to do with conservation, declawing or the activity of the cats.

Those 2 paragraphs are written to create an attack against the man himself. Now i'm not saying what you have done is wrong you are free to write what you wish, but it certainly has that feel to the article.

The declawing report seems a sticky area to me, i agree with you that it is unnatural and also unnecessary however in the report the reasons given do suggest that no long term damage was inoccurred and that full recoveries were made.

I am not saying its right but in the reasons given in the report suggest it was for vaccination purposes, economic purposes as they needed to reinvest any money for the animals safety, food, enclosures etc. Now they are in enclosures should we not just accept that many would not have lived having been left or raised in the wild and it would be impossible to survive if put back into the wild? If this is the case then is it or isn't it in the animals long-term interests albeit if there is no long-term damage? Just some questions i have and would welcome your thoughts.

I think the Anti-Busch and Pro-Busch thing is probably driven via hearsay possibly on both sides.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

In no circumstances is declawing acceptable.

I don't dwell on or give details of the assaults but include references because they are actually relevant and mentioned in my later reference as to how people treat animals.

The declawing DOES cause long term damage, it HAS... for every minute of every day for the rest of their painful lives. Lives which are now shortened by crippling arthritis as well as back and hip problems. Inability to grip food properly, walk properly, groom properly. No reputable Zoo anywhere in the world does it.

The animals would never go into the wild because they are for the most part unnatural hybrids and worthless to conservation.

Until Craig Busch apologises publicly and admits mistakes and liability publicly I will remain firmly anti Craig Busch.


caroline1950 6 years ago

Peter u r a a very jealous person. leave craig alone!


jmac80 6 years ago

Pretty pointless comment Caroline.

The process of declawing is not done by zoo professionals since probably the 80's. The effects are not immediate, most of the time, but as the cats get older there are certainly arthritic problems. It is worse than on domestic cats, partially because of the much larger weights on the joints.

While I think that tigers, lions, etc. can be handled well by professional people. Craig Busch is not one of these. He destroyed a business and caused untold detriment to many people along the way.


What A Load Of! 6 years ago

It seems to me looking at your picture Peter that you must be a retired bloke, further that you don't actually own a big cat and understand that I don't hold that against you.

However you do seem to have it in for someone you have never met in person and very open to hate campaign fever, just try to remember the man has 34000 fans.

If your going to write about someone in this defaming way, then at the very least, know the person you write about and take in the full facts I would say!

What makes you think that we are here to either agree with you or to give you the information you need to be enlightened on the man, who are you, just another opinion and for all we know about you, probably the pot calling the kettle black, crying wolf, after the event.

In no way do I condone de-clawing but then; before all this blew up and changes were implemented to the way this issue should be handled in future in NZ, it made me wonder why you wrote this about Craig Busch and if you have been so concerned why didn't you write about it before Craig Busch?

Oh and by the way, you clearly have missed the press interview with him where he was extremely sorry for what he had done to his cat's without realisation, why, because he loves the blooming animals.

Do you seriously want us to believe he would deliberately harm his own animals that cost him many thousands of dollars, to then go on and cost himself yet more thousands to reverse and treat what you would have us believe; deliberate mutilations? Come on now Peter, are you also accusing the MAF in New Zealand and the Vets or have you just got it in for Craig, which!

As to the insults to him of inexperience! I would like to see you try to get any big cat to roll around on the floor with you or let you help it out whilst it gives birth to a breached cub, have you ever done that? Have you ever touched whilst examining a torn claw on a Tiger without being attacked because the animal knows you would not harm him?

Yes he has removed cubs to hand raise them and no he should not, however this is not a crime just not acceptable!

No Craig Bush has not inbreed any big cats on his Zion Wildlife Gardens, prove that he has or stop talking through the back of your head please! That which he has breed he has the land to allow them to roam free in a natural surrounding that they would not enjoy in the wild as they would be killed by “Humans” Peter!

Yes it's his Wildlife Park and on a cunning technicality he has lost control of it, but he is still the owner of it and the big cats!

Do you wish you had what he owns Peter? You should use any experience you have to help the man not attack him as he is the man who cares about those cats! Make a point of going to meet him if you dare.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

What a load of! - Thank you for your comments. I stand by what I have said. Sorry to have missed Craigs published apology to the press. Nobody seems to be able to turn that one up. I have no wish to meet Craig ...the 'dare' suggests what? Something I have mentioned? No I am not jealous, I don't want anything he has. Will he be paying for the repair the damage the declawing has done? I do hope so.

I am certainly not running any sort of hate campaign but drawing attention to certain facts. My article is essentially about three issues. The unnecessary cruelty of declawing. The total unnecessary activity of going in with cats and lastly the fact that these cats were being promoted as rare, endangered and something special when not a single one was contributing to the worlds conservation efforts. The article goes on to explain why I believe these issues to be true.

Further to your remark about pulling cubs. You are right...it is not a crime...but it should be! See http://hubpages.com/animals/Hand-Rearing-Big-Cats-...


malu_pothi 6 years ago

reading your comments peters you seem to me to have no imagination ie, freaks of nature just because the tigers and lions are not what we consider to be normal. if this was a human are you going to say that someone is a freak because they dont look to what you say is normal???? white tigers have been around for centuries i should know my thesus was about rare animals not only that they were not classed as freaks back then so why do you have the right to say this now!!! and as for craig when he agreed to a breeding program to have two white lions in exchange for two white tigers is that not a conservational interest? you sir are very out of date and stuck up your own ass! oh and that is not a threat before anyone starts.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

malu_pothi - I don't really have to reply to you because you obviously have not read what I have written or the comments afterwards because all is explained. I really cannot fathom where a lack of imagination comes in. As to freaks...read the dictionary definition(s). I have every right to state the truth. White Lions and White Tigers are of NO conservation value. None at all. Please, if you did actually produce a 'thesus' do a little independent research around the subject. Point me towards the official studbooks for White Tigers and White Lions. I would appreciate it. I believe I am far from being out of date. Read http://zoonewsdigest.blogspot.com/2010/02/2010-is-...


What A Load Of! 6 years ago

Peter you said; "Sorry to have missed Craig’s published apology to the press. Nobody seems to be able to turn that one up. I have no wish to meet Craig ...the 'dare' suggests what? Something I have mentioned?" The dare is there for you to meet the person you have set up in your mind to be the enemy! Peter, I am living proof of having seen this in his press interviews - now if you find that hard to believe then you must do your own research mate and stop relying on hearsay of your internet pals with an axe to grind is what I would say!

You see I really care about those animals therefore I did my research and no I am not a headless fan of Craig Busch, just someone who is fed up with the mud being slung at one misguided individual with such venom! When I see unfairness I speak out, and this would follow for man or beast, I would be as outspoken if it were you being attacked unfairly too, why, because I take a balanced stance and political issues are not a weight I use!

Your standing by what you have said because you don't want to give in to the truth of the whole saga of Craig Busch. Just remember it takes a big man to admit he is wrong and Craig did that, can you!!

I don't think your jealous that would be such a petty thing for you as far as I am concerned, I just think your a stick in the mud and need to stop look and listen before you condemn a human being with a good heart and yes I want to believe the best of him, so what!

If he hit a woman or a man it would not be the right thing to do but if that man or woman were as solid as him and had provoked him then I would say six of one and half dozen of the other.

I feel extremely sorry for Karen his ex lover she deserved better send off than she got from him but I was not there and neither were you and we do not know what exactly led to her being assaulted as she has not said publicly but Craig has said publicly that all he did was to drag her semi-naked by the hair from a bed she was in with similarly dressed couple, it seems she had already upset him by using the white Tiger cubs for a friends wedding photos without his permission as he objected to the cubs being exploited in this way and had asked her to leave in the morning as their relationship was over. Now if there is any proof of anything else then let his ex say it here or let's have the minutes from the court case and the Judge's summing up of the case; I think you will find it's not quite the way you are painting it here Peter!

Mu question to you still stands why didn't you write about de-clawing before Craig Busch hit the papers, after all it's gone on for years and you knew about it for years didn't you?

Remember Peter 34000 people can not have all got it wrong!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

I will start with your last statement first. No I knew nothing about the declawing in Zion before I decided to write this article and knew next to nothing about Craig Busch or the Zion Wildlife Park. The declawing in another zoo related article was what drew me on to research deeper and write. People needed to be made aware of the truth behind the man. Declawing is evil and when done so that someone can play Tarzan for TV it is doubly wrong.

Yes I believe 34000 people have got it wrong. I am not wrong about what I have written about...return to the subject...where is it wrong?

Is it the decawing?

Is it the none conservation?

Is it the unnecessary going in with big cats?

Where is it wrong?

Is it just because I don't believe that Craig Busch is clever playing with declawed big cats?

Is it because I don't believe he has done a thing for conservation?

Is it because I am not taken in by the man?

You say you are witness to Craig admitting to his mistakes. Sorry, not good enough for me. Lets see the links to the admission of guilt. Believe me I would include these in this article. I have looked for them. There are none. You want to defend him...find them.

I have never dwelt on his abuse towards Karen and other people. Others bring that up for whatever reason and defend him. I wonder why?

What is the 'whole truth' you want me to publish? Where is it? The truth about what?

You say "we all know about you". Just what do you know? Then you say you would defend me if I was being spoken about unfairly. So which is it? Defending me about the lies others have invented or continue 'knowing'?

I really don't think we have anything further to say. Any queries or thoughts will have already been discussed or mentioned in mine and others comments. Read the links from these.

You are quite entitled to believe the best of Craig. I am happy with that. You are in your turn expected to allow me to have an opinion whether you agree with it or not. Good luck to you. Don't get stuck in the mud.


HarleyQuinn 6 years ago

Just because these animals are, as you call them, 'freaks', does this mean we should implement contraceptive methods to stop them breeding?

Isn't this the equivalent of not letting Albino people breed? Or having them sterilized?

What does this achieve? Stopping more beautiful lion and tigers coming into our world.

So what if they are 'the wrong colour'?

And to be completely fair, you have posted this on the internet.

I could do the very same thing claiming I have done extensive research and nobody could prove me wrong.


What A Load Of! 6 years ago

Peter, I can see you have read my comment in the wrong context so let me rephrase it for you here; when I said de-clawing has gone on for years and you knew about it well before Craig Busch, I was going by your telling us; "I have worked in zoos for more than forty years. During that time I have, by necessity rather than design, hand reared a number of Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Jaguars, and Pumas amongst other animals. I have never had occasion to de-claw a single one of these and nor has the thought of doing so ever passed through my mind." I would have thought that you knew what went on around you in the Big Cat circles, surely your not telling me you did not come into contact with such knowledge of de-clawing in and around Zoos and Parks!

Actually I do believe it's now in the realms of 35000 followers of Craig Busch it seems to be moving very fast indeed.

Craig has been in the public eye now for a good long while and whilst you may believe he has fooled everyone that he really is a nice bloke who cares about his animals; I feel you are doing us all an injustice when it comes to brains and a pair of eyes! We the public are more in tune with what goes on than you think, your not talking to a bunch of kids, we are adults who care about animals and if for one minute, any sane minded person, thought Craig Busch was a deliberate abuser of animals, we certainly would speak up about it and question what goes on.

Now I understand that because you have been a Zoo keep for many years you want to pass on your feelings here and that's fine I believe in free speech but it just seems to me and others I'm reading here, that your launching an attack on the mans character without having any first hand experience of him, in particular with the remark that you have no wish to meet the man you have so much to say about, this is why I feel your a bit of a stick in the mud, since you say on the one hand you await evidence to change your standpoint here but at the same time if we gave you the evidence, you would I feel, only tear it to shreds as you have decided to slate him anyway!

If your going to hover over the word conservation then consider this; Tigers and Lions Elephants and goodness knows how many other animals are in decline, so if someone decides to have a wildlife park of their own and breed them with their own money not yours; what exactly is your objection to that? Do you want to stop them from having large grounds for these animals to roam in whilst being cared for and the public to enjoy contact with them? If that is so why did you work for Zoos for over 40 years?

Peter I am not going to dignify your comments with a link for you to Craig's apology, you wrote this article you find it and do what you want with it but if we the public see it as unfair then we are damn well going to say so!

Like it or Lump it!

If you were talking in general about matters Big Cat's and de-clawing it would have been more appropriate but your slating one person is strange.

Peter when a cub is in a breeched position what would you rather have; the Dam to die in seclusion along with it's cubs trying to get it out? I know which option I would choose being female and having given birth myself and that's help it as best one can which is exactly what Craig is all about.

We all learn from our mistakes and I think Craig is no different to any of us sane caring people, he has learnt from his and this is why I think you have an opportunity to learn here as well your not too old for that as you could put your experience together with someone like Craig if you care so much and turn out good things for those cat's in the future.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Harley - white tigers are not albinos. Please read about them. There are too many tigers in the worlds zoos. 6000 in China alone and many of these are hybrids (like white tigers) and of no conservation value. There are 5000 Tigers in Texas for heavens sake.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

What a Load of! -

"Peter I am not going to dignify your comments with a link for you to Craig's apology, you wrote this article you find it and do what you want with it but if we the public see it as unfair then we are damn well going to say so!

Like it or Lump it!"

I think we will have to lump it then. You cannot provide the proof. So be it.


dixonb24 6 years ago

Peter,

I have the utmost admiration for your tolerance of some of the people that have posted comments on this page. There seems to be people who make comments on pages without reading and understanding the entire article. These are people who don't wish to know or believe the truth even when all the evidence is laid out in front of them. I liken it to a mother not wanting to believe that their son or daughter could have broken the law and ended up in jail. No amount of proof will make these people look through all the goodness and see the wrongness in their hero. All of which is why I think you are wasting your time answering these people.

I was previously a Craig Busch fan until I heard and found proof of the declawing that he forced on his unfortunate animals. This was done solely to protect him when he went in the cages and interacted with them and not for some of the wishy washy reasons others would try to have you believe. The ongoing problems that these animals will suffer is criminal and if Craig was experienced enough to look after these animals in the first place then he would have known how cruel it was.

As for the 'freaks' I will stand by what I previously said about these animals. If they are in some small way allowing the public to fall in love with them and if this persuades the public to contribute to conservation or highlights the plight of the 'normal' animals then that can't be all bad as long as the maimer that is Craig Busch is not allowed near them again. See I can use emotionally persuasive language like your previous 4 'guests'.

By the way anyone who says they are not going to dignify your comments by providing proof doesn't actually have any and I can't believe that they are so ignorant and unintelligent that they believe people can't see that.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

thank you dixonb24 - I admit that some of the questions asked do make me think which is not a bad idea but you are right, so many of the recent postings have been ridicule and repetition. I will just delete anything now that is rude or shows that the commenter has not read the article and comments.


dixonb24 6 years ago

One last thing Peter. I enjoy reading posts and responses on the internet as they can be very interesting especially when about a subject that is close to my heart as this one is. I was born in the year of the tiger and they have always been my favorite animal. So much so that I have financially contributed to their conservation.

What I do not like is responses based on emotion or that purport to be based on facts that when the proof is asked for is unabled to be supplied.

Craig and his followers know that Craig had his cats declawed but can't bring themselves to understand the enormity of the pain and suffering he has caused them. This is because he is a charming man who is believable in his naive and innocent mannerisms. I do not believe, in my opinion, that this an intentional ruse but is just the way he is naturally.

Yes Craig has 34000 followers but there are also many millions who are not followers, is that because they can see through the emotion and grasp the truth.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

dixonb24 - thank you.


jmac80 6 years ago

Peter, Is there any truth to the rumour that you are going to be doing consulting work for Zion Wildlife Gardens?


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

jmac80-

I am a zoo consultant and advise, guide, aid and suggest when asked and have been doing so for years.

Back in December Patricia Busch asked me if I would act as a consultant. I agreed. I would act as a consultant on any zoo in the world no matter where it was. This would include the Shenyang Forest Park Zoo in China or even Sri Racha in Thailand. As a consultant I do not sell my soul or principles.

That said I have not done any work for Zion nor offered any advice as I have not been asked, nor would I be in a position to do so without visiting. I have not recieved any payment financial or otherwise from Zion.

I fear that my thoughts and opinions on White Tigers, White Lions and their ilk would not make me the first or best choice to be consulted as I tend not only to be honest but governed by stubborn principle.


jmac80 6 years ago

Thanks for the update. I certainly have nothing negative about seeking employment as long as your conscience allows you to condone the company or product.


Bunnyhugger74 6 years ago

Get a grip people. Most of you who are getting upset about these animals being referred to as freaks are doing so because you believe that the animals so-labelled are "beautiful" and "adorable". Look beyond the fuzziness. Unfortunately if Craig Busch was carrying out a similar procedure on say, iguanas, most of you wouldn't care because they don't have the same appeal as the big cats. Like it or not, freaks is what they are. I'm not going to reiterate many of the above points but I will suggest that you take note of all the examples of the definition of the word that Peter has given above. The word is being used, for once, in it's real context.

Peter Dickinson is incredibly well respected in the zoo world and the guy knows what he's talking about. He's not jealous, he's not a "wannabe poser" (somebody please find me a dictionary definition of that!). I think I would be hard pressed to find an animal keeper showing support for Busch on here.

Having 34000 followers on Facebook means sod all. "Sleeping with one leg out of the covers" currently has 1,633,223. Go figure.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Bunnyhugger74 - "Having 34000 followers on Facebook means sod all. "Sleeping with one leg out of the covers" currently has 1,633,223. Go figure." An interesting point. Thank you.


jmac80 6 years ago

Bunnyhugger74- I agree with your comment about why people care about white tigers. The fact though is that they do and why not take advantage of that fact. They can be a force for the good of in situ conservation. That does not mean to abandon captive programs. But, let us be realistic the future of tigers is dependent on government and ngo's to protect what is left in the wild.

Craig Busch though is hopefully out of the business for good. He cannot get the simplest facts correct and does more harm than good.


Suzie77 6 years ago

Hi Peter, I just wanted to say how informative I found your article. I too, like many of the people here, WAS a fan of Craig Bushe. I loved watching the show, I even joined his fan page on facebook which I will be now removing myself from. Im living in Ireland and like the UK there is little or no information on what is happening in ZWG, we just see the programme The Lion Man and to be totally honest I really enjoyed it. Now I feel so guilty knowing what those poor cats were subjected too. I hope Craig doesnt get near the animals again. Thank you Peter for raising this issue, it cant have been easy, seeing a lot of abuse you've had to take for telling the truth.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Suzie77 - Thank you for reading. I can fully understand anyone being taken in by the Lion Man TV show. They make excellent television and without looking deeper it is all quite believeable.


Luluanne 6 years ago

Hi all. I wanted to take issue (surprising eh?) with something Lucycat1 said...."there were indicators in the programme when sometimes the lions or tigers would flinch as if they were expecting to be hit."

I have 2 cats who came to me from their mother at 9 weeks. They were raised in a loving home before coming to me, are adored and have never been badly treated, yet the female is the most timid creature I've ever met. Every time anybody raises a hand she flinches and cowers. At the same time the male is a big brave lionhearted boy. Some animals (as is true for people) are just timid. I don't think you can base any opinion on seeing an animal APPEAR to flinch!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

A General Note: I have had several comments these past few weeks. These have been both positive and negative....and sometimes criminal. I have not allowed them through because they are mainly repetition shock, horror, amazement, how, defensive, unbelieving. The common denominator is a question or questions. All have been answered previously in the comments of this article. Please read through these...both the negative and the positive.


sdavies 6 years ago

Hi Peter,

I personally cannot believe the amount of faux disbelief, denial and outright ignorance with individuals taking issue with what you are saying here. You have continued to make sound, rational and reasonably solid responses to these outrageous queries from ill informed over zealous TV celebrity supporters that bear no parity to your actual apparently well informed/researched/experience based points in the article.

I applaud your stoic stance in the face of such an onslaught of idiocy.

I have witnessed continued twisting and out of context reporting, along with outright lies on the afore mentioned Facebook fan page that far surpass any suggested "fabricated smear campaign against Craig". There are key people on the afore mentioned Facebook page that can only be described by me in an emotive fashion as the lords and ladies of lies when it comes to stealing and publishing images completely out of context to prove a point beyond even logical fallacy.

There is no point in traversing the emotive avenues these deluded individuals appear to regularly explore as there is no logical evidence based conclusion and I find fault with that. "This apple is wrong, because someone ate a peach, and Craig would never do that even though he did" makes more sense.

I have to admit if I am being completely objective, I do find your report ever so slightly biased, but not lacking in any truth based on all evidence that has been offered up, so, guilty of being intelligent and passionate but not wrong :-) Shame on you Peter ;-)

Keep up the good work and don't let the loons get you down (I don't think they really do and you need not my comment, but I am adding my support regardless).

Many thanks once again for your research into these matters.


em1 6 years ago

Hi Peter (and readers in general),

It has taken a while, but I have read your article and all the posts and your responses. I have looked up your sources, looked at C.B's facebook page, ZWG's web page, wathced episodes of The Lion Man, found what I can about you and generally tried to get an overall view.

It all began, for me, quite some time ago, when my friend encouraged me (being a big cat fan) to watch an episode of the best show she had seen. After 25 minutes I was horrified. I have no zoological experience and the majority of my knowledge about big cats comes from David Attenbrough, Wildlife books and generally watching documentaries. Even with my limited knowledge, I immediately saw that what he was doing was wrong on many levels. I even noticed in one scene from the show that the cat had no claws (it was a tiger). I knew that the breeds he stated he was 'conserving' didn't exist and that the Barbary was extinct (I'd seen a documentary about it). A very long argument between my friend and I ensued. (She has since converted to a non-fan and removed herself from the facebook page.)

In the general scheme of things, I am an intelligent person. I'm sure that the however many thousands of facebook followers C.B has are generally intelligent people as well, so how come they have never noticed anything a bit off about his practices when it took me 25 minutes to see them?

Yes, the animals he bred have a right to life (freaks or not). That has never been an issue. But to actively seek the recessive gene bloodline to breed a population of white cats, to me, is designer mutation.

One of my pet cats (who died a few years ago at a very ripe old age) had to have a claw removed because of an infection that left it twisted and too painful to walk on. The first claw of the right foot. One claw. It was awful for him until it healed. That was just one claw! On extreme medical grounds!

I'm sorry for all his 'fans' because no one who truely loves their animals would ever contemplate de-clawing them. Doing it for social spectacle is barbaric. It's not like having a toenail removed. Would anyone like to have the tips of every finger and thumb removed at the joint? I think not.

I live in England. The Lion Man is shown on satellite/cable TV channels. No terrestrial channels show it (to my knowledge). There has been nothing about what has gone on at ZWG, in court etc. All England gets is the show and nothing else. Fair enough, broadcasters are not going to sling the dirt on one of their most popular shows - so the whole story goes un-reported and any/all information has to be sought on the internet. To much leg work for some, perhaps.

Yes, there undoubtedly has been previous incidences of de-clawing going on in the world of zoos etc. Unfortunately, C.B was daft enough to put himself in the public arena so any and all de-clawing issues will always have his name attached to them as point of reference. No one is interested in Mr. Unknown from Some Random Zoo getting up to frowned upon or illegal practices. He has not built a persona for himself that promotes him as an all caring, all loving, friendly and knowledgeable man of his field. C.B did that and now he is being revealed as a fallible human being who is not quite so knowledgeable as some once believed. I have no opinion of the man as a person. I've not met him and I don't know him. All the other stuff that has been banded around about court cases, ex-lovers, violence, bad behaviour etc is of no interest to me. The only people who should have an interest in all that are those directly involved - which we, as the general population, are not. So but out of it, facebook people! (Just my humble opinion.)

On another note - has anyone noticed the credits for the Lion Man show? They change quite a bit throughout the series. It's a documentary, fly on the wall show. I don't think anyone will deny that. If it is a fly on the wall documentary, why does it need a script editor and script writer? Having C.B as executive producer is nothing strange. After all, Sharon Osbourne was a producer on The Osbournes. It's a vested interest. But in one show, C.B was credited as executive producer, script writer, editor and director. (I have no idea which episode it was or from which season. Watch the lot and find out if you so desire. It's up to you if you believe me or not but he is generally credited for something in every episode.) My point being: it cannot be objective, factual viewing with one person having such control over so many aspects of the show. C.B has also been a handler and trainer for Siegfried and Roy in Las Vegas and helped them with their white tiger breeding (so the breeding at ZWG is nothing new to him. Nor is the de-clawing because he was doing in Vegas, too, with S & R). If you look around a bit you can find that info on the net. He also worked in the film industry as an animal handler. Not exactly the pedigree of an expert in his field of animal 'conservation'. He has no qualifications in animal husbandry or animal handling. He has never worked in a zoo. (You wouldn't put your toddler in a nursery where the staff had no qualifications, would you? Innocent, defenceless children need specialist care. It's the same difference for zoo workers.)

I'm not dissing the man, just pointing out some interesting things to think about.

Peter - I like your style. Good on you, fella, and keep up the good work.

Readers and responders - I either nod my head at you or laugh at you. Sometimes both. You've made interesting reading.

Many thanks for the article and allowing the vast array of responses to have their air. I'm sure C.B will be tomorrows fish and chip paper and someone else will be getting picked on very soon (said with a very light heart). At least then he'll be getting left alone, just like his fans want him to be.

ttfn


Sian1201 6 years ago

Firstly Peter thank you for hanging in there whilst us slow coaches read the previous posts before posting our own opinions.

I would usually consider myself a freethinking, intelligent individual with a fairly cynical slant of thought, however, for a while there I too got taken in by Mr Craig Busch. What I would like to say is even during my rose coloured glasses days of watching the series "The Lion Man", something did not sit right with me.

So unlike many, and like many others, I started to research this and the hair on the back of my neck began to stand on end. I was right there was something not quite right about what I was viewing.

I am a cat owner for my sins and have had a fair few of them living with me over my life and having read the various comments and to many I would point out that owning a domestic cat and owning a wild cat (of any size) is a completely different process but one thing is consistent. You have to think of what is best for the animal. Not what is best for the individual human owner - what is best for them.

For example there are arguements against neutering. I feel that this is, for a domestic cat not being used for breeding purposes, a necessity and as such I feel I am a responsible owner having this done. However as that same responsible owner, I have never ever considered declawing them, despite my wrecked furniture. Their claws are a fundamental part of how they move, groom and feed, so the declawing process is a mutilation. Regardless of anyone's reason for agreeing or disagreeing and who thinks who is responsible for do it (I have read all the back up paperwork). The buck stops with Mr Busch, they were his cats and so he is responsible. The vet et al also are damned in this as well but Mr Busch takes the largest slice of blame.

I would also say that as a freak of nature myself with a recessive gene I agree that the white tigers, barbery lions et al, have the right to life, but it is wrong to breed them as a so called conservation project. As I mentioned I am by dictionary definition a freak and so have a personal view of breeding anything with recessive genes and would argue that whilst we all have the right to life but no one wants to breed me as a conservation project (most of all me). Those who supportmMr Busch's practice of breeding these rare colour variants should ask themselves, would you conciously breed a human who has cerebal palsy or spina bifida? No, then why do it to another species?

However, to my point, it wasn't declawing or even breeding of genetic misfits that made me question this man's qualifications as a large felid breeder/owner, it was his practice of removing the young 2 week old cubs from their mother to hand rear. I was horrified. We don't take domestic kittens from their mothers at such a young age so we can interact better with them, so why in hell's name does anyone think it is appropriate for the care of large felids to do this? It was this that set me on the path to questioning not only Mr Busch's ethics but his practices and procedures as well. So I researched and came up with my own opinion and then, unfortunately for you, came across your article.

Thank you for putting up the with fall out from your well thoughtout and well written article, this I suspect you knew you would get, but stood by your principals and published. Yes, for those who get this far through my post without going up in flames, you did attack Craig Busch on a personal level. Yes, you did slant your article in a way that attacked Craig Busch personally. And finally yes you are completely vinidcated in that attack.

Whether Craig Busch loves his cats or not isn't actually the issue I have with him. It is his inability to grasp that whether he is the archangel Gabriel or the Devil Incarnate, this is not for me the argument. Neither is the fact he has been convicted of assualt. The argument is whether or not he is fit to be incharge of Zion Wildlife Gardens? Clearly on the basis of the evidence available he is not.

Thank you for reading and I hope I haven't upset the apple cart even more. And I appreciate your reading the droning on of a woman with the spelling and grammer usually aportioned to that of a 10 year old child.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Sean1201 - Thank you for reading and for your comments. They are appreciated especially your comparisons to domestic cats. The word 'freak' does seem to get to a lot of people but it is one of the correct ones to use. It perhaps digs because it is sometimes used as a nasty insult to other humans.


FreyaMary 6 years ago

I am a fan of lion man and very interested in working with big cats just like Craig Busch. When I checked through the websites of Zion Wildlife Gardens and many you-tube videos for that matter, I was shocked and upset. I never knew about all these happenings. When I signed into to this post, I was even more annoyed. I couldn't understand why Craig had been banished from his own park! Yet I have read through a few of these posts, therefore my feelings of this matter are now torn in this subject.

The sheer idea of this man de-clawing these animals is horrible, especially seeings though it's illegal!

On the other hand, I am devastated to find that the park no longer allows big cat handling. I know the loss of that man was absolutely terrible, however I do not think that actions of ONE cat should account for stopping human contact with them. I also hate dog breed banning, it has the same concept. A few bad owners, scrap the breed. I have always wanted to work with endangered big cats, just like Craig himself did. I do not believe it is an all terrible thing. The cats may pleasure from human interaction. Just because one man went to far with his passion, began illegal cruelty to these cats. Does it mean there is no future for humans and cat interact?

Although I perhaps sound like I care more about touching the cats than the actual conversation of them. It is not true, I am merely annoyed that Craig and his cruel habits could ruin it for other people...

P.S. I am not fully aware why Craig was suspended and why he de-clawed the animals in the first place. Are you able to help?


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

FreyaMary - thank you for your comments. The reasons for Craigs suspension can be found by doing an internet search.

Handling and going into enclosures with big cats has absolutely nothing to do with conservation. The best conservation zoos NEVER do this. Sorry also but the cats in the collection were not endangered or part of any official breeding programme....things may have changed since Craig left.


jmac80 6 years ago

I have to disagree about the handling of big cats and conservation. Probably the best two institutions currently funding in situ conservation both handle their animals for public display. These are Dreamworld and Australia Zoo, both in Australia.


1 of each 6 years ago

Peter, thank you for an informative and thought provoking article. I have read your post, followed the links, done my own research and am appalled by my own gullibility. I can't believe that someone as cynical as myself has been taken in by a man cuddling some (rather beautiful) big cats. I am from the UK and only had experience of CB and ZWG from the TV. It is hard to reconcile the "caring" man on my screen to the torture that is declawing, which he himself admits he initiated. I am ashamed to say I joined the FB fan page,more as a fan of the cats than of CB, needless to say I will be removing myself from it, tout suite!

thank you for educating me and encouraging me to find the facts out about the case for myself.


rubymimosa 5 years ago

Peter,

Thank you for your article. It seems to me that this is a story filled with victims, and reminds me of another. A rottweiler was stabbed during a domestic dispute when he got in the way of a husband attacking his wife. The rottweiler was removed from the home for his safety. It was horribly sad, the dog loved the wife (and husband), but the court could not be concerned with that. They had to rule for the dog's safety. Just as the courts now have to consider the animal's welfare, not the broken heart of the humans.

I'm sure this man loves his cats. I'm sure his intentions were noble, the more interest is generated in tigers the more dollars go towards their conservation. I'm sure these animals love him too. But they were neither conscious nor consenting when he had someone else mutilate their skeleton in order to create a circus act. I can love, adore and cuddle an animal, my heart can swell with my feeling for that animal, and I may be doing it all wrong. The animals' affection for him is not a reliable indicator of his qualifications to manage their welfare.

Abused women and children usually love the man that abused them. They even cling more tightly to that person than a parent or partner that does not abuse them. I use this analogy informedly. The LionMan did not "merely" beat up his romantic partner (and don't make me vomit by siting the situation in which he did it). He broke bones, multiple bones. He did not just do this once, he did it twice that he was convicted of it. How often did it happen before that? How many more times will it happen if he doesn't receive treatment?

Frankly, trying to separate these crimes from his job is naive. His job is to care for living beings. In his personal life, he has at least twice caused grievous bodily harm to people he supposedly loved. People he loved just as he loves his "kids", these cats. I do not doubt that he loves these animals. But he has proven that his love has nothing to do with his judgment and behavior.

Perhaps the solution would be effective if modeled on domestic violence custody cases. Supervised visits, with the staff being able to decide if they wish to be there, and the animals have the choice of whether or not they wish to approach the enclosure barriers and interact with him. Through the barriers.

Perhaps he should go to university and obtain some formal degrees that he can couple with his gift with animals to help them more effectively. With study he might even evolve his techniques....look at Steve Irwin, he constantly evolved how he worked with his animals. He studied formally and partnered with accredited, sanctioned and reputable professionals and institutions.

As to his personal interaction with these animals, it draws crowds and is (in my opinion) an arguable avenue in animal husbandry. The Cavinalls (did I spell that right?) use intensive hands on with their animals, but their animals live in family groups (mimicking their wild behavior) and are constantly producing offspring which are bred responsibly and are being reintroduced to the wild. Tigers are solitary animals in the wild, and beautiful aberrations (yes, even gorgeous, heart-squeezing color mutations) would not survive in the wild. Their breeding is purely for the human "awwwww" factor, it is not conservation.

These animals if found in the wild should be protected and allowed to live their natural lifespan. If born in captivity they should be prevented from reproducing and loved and cared for as intensely as possible.

Was it in Las Vegas the Sigfried and Roy operated? They loved their animals intensely. I'm sure they even treated them kindly. Their animals are beyond beautiful. But they essentially ran a circus act, a magic act. Those animals were pets. The LionMan had a similar collection of pets. The difference is that he did not offer himself as a magician, an actor, a performer. He touted himself as a zoological professional and his park as a conservation center.

Lets face facts. He essentially had his pets taken from him, it is horribly sad for him. I can even believe that his animals may miss him. If for some reason the people currently taking care of his "pets" (he even calls them his kids!) are doing something wrong, harming the animals or endangering the public then they should be removed.

It is unspeakable that a man died, it is devastating that an animal was killed. I will NOT imply that keeper did anything to provoke the attack. The keeper apparently did what he had been trained to do, he went into an enclosure with a wild animal. He should never have been trained to do that. The LionMan obviously feels very deeply about this tragedy, and I hope at the core of that feeling is regret that he ever set up a policy where an animal could sign its own death warrant by killing its keeper.

What he was trying to do can be done better, but any institution that keeps wild animals will always face controversy. We do the best we can, with the information available at that time, but there will always be those that feel strongly about particular paths of care and breeding. A successful model of what he was apparently trying to accomplish exists in Africa at a lion and hyena sanctuary (I'm horrible at internet searches, the gent in charge has black hair and a van dyke...). His organization was founded on orphaned victims of poaching and the bush meat trade. His breeding is carefully regulated and natural, no forced mating, no inbreeding programs, no isolation of genetically attractive but negatively survivable traits.

I can not objectively blame this man for trying to regain custody of his pets. I can understand well-meaning emotional responses from people that are only seeing that separation. What confuses me is people that refuse to consider that the courts, the government, the supervising organizations, the staff at the park, and wildlife officials might have some legitimate concerns on their side.

A convicted wife beater, this man had a second chance. He beat up another woman...that's what he did with his second chance. He mutilated over two dozen animals. To me that means he had dozens of chances....did he not see their suffering after the procedures? He put his own desires, to cuddle with these animals, above their welfare.

We can love how this man treated the animals on camera, and still understand he is not a viable candidate for wildlife husbandry.

We can feel sorry for him and still understand that HE is not the subject of importance, the animals are. And the consensus in professional circles (not the circus of media and fan frenzy) seem to be in agreement in a judgment against him.

I have three questions for his fans:

1) if the animals are his priority then why are funds being raised for his legal battle, not conservation.

2) how could an entire family, the staff at a wildlife park, the government, independent wildlife organizations and zoological governing bodies all be in a conspiracy against one man?

3) if he is fighting for the animals and not his own heart and pain then why is he not studying, investigating, expanding his knowledge, entering therapy and rehabilitation for his violence to ensure that he is learned and stable enough to be a successful and responsible wildlife conservator?

Remember my first paragraph? It is horribly sad that the relationship he had with these animals had to be severed. But it was not a healthy relationship. The lady that has 200 cats in her house is going to cry and scream when the animals are taken away, it is so sad that they lose her and she them, she had only good intentions when she got them all. But her relationship with them was not healthy. Authority had to step in with her, authority has stepped in with the LionMan.

The world is not all about conspiracy theories. Sometimes it has to be about reality, there is no world-wide conspiracy against this man....just a slow and painful removal of a beautiful illusion. An illusion that even the LionMan seems to still be buried in. If he is not being selfish then he should turn the spotlight from himself to the ani


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

rubymimosa - Thank you for your interesting comment. Sadly it seems to cut off at the end. I am not allowing all comments through any longer. Many are illiterate, several address matters previously discussed in the article or in the comments or answers to them. The remainder are just plain rude.

You have a different and honest approach. Thanks again.


rubymimosa 5 years ago

Peter,

My apologies. My long (too long) note ended by my pointing out the spotlight should be on the animals, the funds should be for them.

I also wrote that neither courts, the judicial system, nor the governing wildlife agencies are going to be influenced by the funds he is raising for his legal defense. The most those funds could be doing is going towards Craig's therapy and rehabilitation. And though that might be a worthy cause, I personally would rather contribute to the larger victims in this story. The people he savaged physically, the animals he victimized in order to satisfy his personal needs, and wildlife conservation.

The courts should obtain a list of all contributors to his FaceBook and other fundraising avenues in order to educate them about what their money actually went to. Not conservation, not tigers, just a man with hurt feelings and a criminal and violent history. Personally, I would be demanding my money back. I would not be surprised to see a class action suit against this montebanc at the end of the day.

Thankfully the park is now under professional management. Unfortunately funds that could be going towards bettering that park are being syphoned away to placate an individual who cannot see above his pain to the greater good his infamy could be used for.

Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if he woke up and announced that all funds that had been given to him were being given to the park; he was entering therapy and the park, employees, and animals no longer had to concern themselves that his passionate misapprehensions could harm them?

I think I'll pray for that.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

rubymimosa - Thank you for your thoughts.


sdavies 5 years ago

Hi Peter, Some recent disturbing information from Zion Wildlife Gardens http://bit.ly/98KVSN makes for sad disturbing reading.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you for that Simon. I will see that it gets widest coverage. More people need to know the truth.


ozdivergt 5 years ago

Peter - I happened upon your article after visiting the parks website and wanted to know more. A UK friend has talked about visiting NZ and Zion as a result of the TV programmes being broadcast on SKY TV over there. I am quite disturbed really about the public face of this man and the "real" events and happenings which have gone on at his hands. I do hope that the park now prospers under the new management and that Mr. Busch is never allowed anywhere near it. I thank you for your informative research and feel sad that other people can't see the truth. Perhaps all of those Facebook followers are in fact only one or two people trying to build a case for themselves! Sadly at the end of the day those that suffer will be the animals who are not there out of choice. The animal world is in a desperate state at the hand of mankind. If this idiot could put his own ego to rest he might actually be able to do something decent and just walk away. Thank you for taking the time to write your article. All the best - Glynis


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Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank You Glynis. There are more than a few CB Facebook fans but a some, I am pleased to say have taken the time to look deeper. I have noticed and overall reduction in interest him over the internet.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

A further note about comments:

Some months ago I stopped accepting comments on this article. I put up a large and clear explanatory note to this effect at the start of the comments and yet they continue to come in. I don't really mind as the majority are supportive and from people who have actually read, and more importantly understood the article. Thank you. Others have gone one further and read the comments too. That's fine. Thank you again. Then there are the rude and ignorant commenters who don't deserve the light of day. Craig Busch Fans? Yes there are a few. Sadly most miss the point to make their point.

It would be very easy for me to accept the supportive comments and reject the others...but I'm not. I am actually rejecting all. I believe that is fair. I know that some may think that this is not the case. So be it.

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