Buyout plan for wild animal sanctuary falls through
ALBION, Ind. – An animal sanctuary needs a new home for its 86 wild tenants after efforts to buy the property where it has been for two decades failed.
Black Pine Animal Park must move before October from its Noble County site, said Mark Thaler, president of the sanctuary’s board of directors.
Brad Bonar, who co-founded the park and lives on the property about 30 miles northwest of Fort Wayne, had offered to sell the land to the board for $411,000. Bonar said last month the sanctuary’s insurance company would no longer cover the park if someone lives there with its bears, tigers and other wild animals, prompting the offer.
Board members made a counteroffer, but it was rejected and officials have decided to relocate, Thaler said. The insurance on the current park expires Oct. 1.
The nonprofit park plans to open for the season on Saturday.
Officials have been planning an expansion for years and had scheduled a fundraising campaign to begin May 7 with an appearance by animal expert Jack Hanna at the Scottish Rite Center in Fort Wayne.
The fundraiser will now have an added sense of urgency, Thaler said.
"We’ve had (expansion) in our long-term plans for many years, but this will be short-term notice, so we’ll have to put it together in a few months," he said.
Moving to a new site, however, could mesh well with the expansion plans, he said.
Sanctuary officials plan to meet with the Albion Town Council on Tuesday to discuss buying or leasing property at Hidden Diamonds Park, a 48-acre city park. The current animal park has only 12.5 acres.
Thaler said organizers were also willing to consider to other sites.
Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net
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