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Craig Busch and Zion Wildlife Gardens

Updated on July 4, 2011

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.

Zoo News Digest

Follow news and views of zoos at Zoo News Digest 

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.

Comments

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  • Peter Dickinson profile image
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    Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

  • Peter Dickinson profile image
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    Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    ozdivergt 6 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 7 years ago from South East Asia

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

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    sdavies 7 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
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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    rubymimosa - Thank you for your thoughts.

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    rubymimosa 7 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
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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    rubymimosa 7 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

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    1 of each 7 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.

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    jmac80 7 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.

  • Peter Dickinson profile image
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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    FreyaMary 7 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
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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Sian1201 7 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.

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    em1 7 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

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    sdavies 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Luluanne 7 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!

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Suzie77 7 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.

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    jmac80 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Bunnyhugger74 7 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.

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    jmac80 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    jmac80 7 years ago

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

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    dixonb24 - thank you.

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    dixonb24 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    dixonb24 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    What A Load Of! 7 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.

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    HarleyQuinn 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    What A Load Of! 7 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!

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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-...

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    malu_pothi 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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 https://hubpages.com/animals/Hand-Rearing-Big-Cats...

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    What A Load Of! 7 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.

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    jmac80 7 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.

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    caroline1950 7 years ago

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

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Michael Thomas 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Michael Thomas 7 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!

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    jmac80 7 years ago

    Yes they are.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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?

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    jmac80 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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

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    jmac80 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    lucycat1 7 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.

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    jmac80 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    lucycat1 7 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.

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    jmac80 7 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.

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    trix26 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Brightyone 7 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.

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    Emmz 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Rogue2009 7 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

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Lincslass 7 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

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    Thank you for your comment storminaddcup

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    storminaddcup 7 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.

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    Luluanne 7 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)

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Luluanne 7 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?

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    Luluanne 7 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

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Luluanne 7 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

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    Birdie 7 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!

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    Joe 7 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..

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

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

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Jill 7 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

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    Birdie 7 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??

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    Birdie 7 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.

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    Birdie 7 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.

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    Claire 7 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.

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    Brett 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

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

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    Birdie 7 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&am.../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.

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    Liz  7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    Thanks Keith Tax

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    Keith Schroeder 7 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.

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    Joe 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

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

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    John 7 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.

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    huntress 7 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.

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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

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    Ryan 7 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

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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    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.