Craig Busch wants to regain control of Zion Wildlife Gardens near Whangarei or start a similar park elsewhere.
Lion Man Craig Busch will not let scammers put him off trying to regain Whangarei’s Zion Wildlife Gardens or open another big-cat park.
It has been revealed that thieves have siphoned off money in a British bank account set up to raise funds for him.
Mr Busch lost Zion Wildlife Gardens – the big-cat park he started which featured in the Lion Man TV series he starred in – to his mother, Patricia Busch, after she bailed him out financially.
His mother sacked him in November 2008. But the Lion Man has been trying to raise funds to buy back the park, or set up another, with donations pouring in from around the globe, according to a spokeswoman for the Big Cat Rescue Trust.
She said most of the support was coming from Britain, where the three Lion Man series showed almost daily.
The spokeswoman was not prepared to say how much had been stolen from the Big Cat Rescue Trust account, but it is understood to have been a significant sum. She said it had been recovered by the bank.
British police and the bank were still hunting the culprits, who had set up direct debits using account details listed on Mr Busch’s official website for donations.
“When you have an account that you want people to donate to, you have to make the details public,” the spokeswoman said. “Unfortunately, people have used them to set up direct debits and take the money out. We wanted to make people aware that it’s been recovered and we’ve taken steps to make sure it won’t happen again.”
The bank account number and details remain public, but funds are transferred into a more secure account straight away.
The spokeswoman said only the British account had been affected, not a New Zealand one. She said Mr Busch had also received threats.
His legal battle to regain control of Zion is to go to the High Court this year.
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