Beleaguered Kamo big cat park set for public viewing open days

Northland’s beleaguered big cat sanctuary is set to reopen for public viewings, six months after closing due to liquidation.

Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary has planned an opening day on Saturday, September 16, with a promise of more open days to come.

People keen to see the sanctuary’s 13 lions and tigers have expressed their joy at the reopening.

The park was once owned by “The Lion Man” Craig Busch and made internationally famous by a reality TV series of the same name.

But the park has had a chequered history, including Busch assaulting his partner and having a legal battle over ownership with his mother, Patricia Busch.

In May 2009, keeper Dalu Mncube was mauled to death by a white tiger while cleaning its enclosure.

The two tigers and 11 lions at Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to be viewed by the public once again.


The two tigers and 11 lions at Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to be viewed by the public once again.

The Ministry of Primary Industries ordered the big cat sanctuary to close to the public in July 2014, until animal enclosures met requirements.

It was not able to open again until December 2021, under new ownership and new management.

But Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary has been unable to shake the problems of its past, closing again in March due to liquidation, owing $264,000 to Inland Revenue and $43,000 to former employees.

In July, former director Dale Vallance was jailed for nearly three years for indecently assaulting four women.

His imprisonment sparked fresh concerns for the sanctuary’s ageing big cats, but manager Janette Vallance maintained their welfare was being cared for, and they would not be put down.

MPI has said it regularly checks the park, with the welfare of the big cats and their safe containment being a top priority.

The regulator said the liquidation would not stop the park from opening.

Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary is advertising its September 16 open day as being available for voucher redemption and door sales, with the option to buy hangi and drinks.

More open days are also planned, the sanctuary has promised on social media.

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