FROM THE NORTHERN ADVOCATE SATURDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2009
STORY MIKE DINSDALE
Lion Man Craig Busch has been ordered to return tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment he took after being sacked from the Whangarei Zion Wildlife Gardens he helped make famous around the world.
The Employment Relations Authority, in a decision released yesterday (6 November), ordered Mr Busch - who made global fame as television's The Lion Man - to give back a long list of property that he took after being dismissed in December, 2008.
Zion operator Tim Husband welcomed the decision, saying a big cat race, which also weighs the animals, and tranquiliser gun ordered returned, were vital for the park's operations.
Mr Busch's lawyer, Daniel Erickson, did not want to comment on the decision at this stage.
Mr Busch was sacked from Zion Wildlife Gardens, in Kamo after being accused of serious misconduct, including allegations of major breaches of safety protocols, inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and performance issues.
He took the matter to the authority, claiming unjustified dismissal by Zion Wildlife Gardens and Zion Wildlife Services, which are partly and wholly owned by his mother Patricia Busch.
Mr Busch then dropped his claim with the authority, but it heard a counter claim from Zion against Mr Busch and authority member Yvonne Oldfield found in the park's favour this week.
The property he is order to return includes: a 2005 Nissan Patrol, two trailers, a tranquiliser gun, auger drills for an excavator, power tools, a raceway for the big cats, air compressor, water pump, hoses and motor, saw bench, computers, ladders and gates.
Ms Oldfield found that it could be proved that some of the items Zion claimed relief over belonged to it and she did not order those items to be returned.
She made no order in relation to zoo records taken by Mr Busch relating to the big cats.
Ms Oldfield ordered Mr Busch to return the property by today or within three days of him returning from overseas. He is believed to be in the United Kingdom.
Mr Husband said for good animal husbandry, it was essential to be able to weigh animals regularly.
"Presently both staff and vets have to estimate the cats' weight then medicating and anesthetising the animals. this has put unnecessary pressure on staff and vets, as well as being potentially dangerous to the cats," he said .
Mr Busch's battle to regain control of Zion, after it was taken over by his mother, is to go to the High Court next year.
Reproduced from the Mad Bush Farm Blog http://madbushfarm.blogspot.com/ with permission. Thanks Liz!