Animal cruelty allegations made against Busch
Published: 6:24PM Sunday May 31, 2009
Serious allegations, including claims of animal cruelty, have been made against TV’s world famous Lion Man.
ONE News has obtained documents, and spoken to workers at the Zion Wildlife Gardens, about occasions when big cats were hurt and people put at risk over a period of five years.
The allegations surfaced after Craig Busch publicly criticised safety standards at Zion, following the fatal mauling of a keeper last week.
ONE News has spoken to staff who claim Busch cruelly killed unwanted cubs.
One worker claims he saw Busch put a cub down using a rock the size of a softball.
“He lay the cub on the ground…he was in a standing position and he threw the rock down on the ground onto the cub. It took three or four times before he was satisfied it was dead, cause he actually… semi missed&he clipped it cause I remember seeing the thing bounce with the impact of the rock,” alleges one anonymous worker.
ONE News put these specific allegations to Busch. He declined to appear on camera, but through a spokesperson says he denies he has ever mistreated any animals.
Earlier in the week at a press conference Busch was adamant the welfare of the cats was a top priority.
“There is no way I am going to allow those tigers or any cat there get put down, no way,” he says.
Busch also claimed safety standards at Zion Wildlife Gardens have slipped since he was sacked last year.
“They need to pull their socks up.”
However some staff allege last October it was Busch who put lives at risk insisting two keepers run alongside a tiger on a lead as part of training.
Staff spoken to by ONE News say running with a cat can incite it to attack. In one case a tiger did just that, biting a worker.
“The tiger jumped him down on the first run and went over to grab him by the throat, lucky I was there and I hit the tiger a few times,” says the worker.
A third park worker alleges he saw Busch beat two of the cats with a short wooden handle.
“He laid into it and laid into and laid into.. the male lion come and laid on top of her to guard her cause she was whimpering … and he said ‘you want some too’ and gave him a couple of blows too.”
Staff spoken to by ONE News say they didn’t speak up at the time because they were scared to do so.