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Answered 2009-09-16 11:39:44

From a young age Craig discovered that he had a unique ability to understand and handle cats. As he grew older he determined to dedicate his life to the preservation of big cats.

In 2002 having mustered a collection of some 18 large cats, Craig set up Zion Wildlife Gardens, near Whangarei. http:/ There are currently 41 big cats at the park.

In 2003 Phil Smith, director of Great Southern Television (GSTV) approached Craig about filming a TV series "The Lionman". The series, funded by TVNZ, was filmed over 2003/2004 and went to air in 2004. Two further series were made and "The Lionman" is now loved by millions of people around the world in over 100 countries. http:/

In 2005, following a period of personal difficulty, Craig's mother, Patricia, moved into the park to assist him. In 2006 Patricia offered to help Craig refinance the park. An agreement was entered into between Craig, Patricia, Zion Wildlife Gardens and Country Developments. http:/

Craig was asked to resign as a director and sign over the voting rights for his shares to Patricia. A 12.5% share in Zion Wildlife Gardens and Country Developments was signed over to Patricia. The loan was secured against the park property in Kamo and was to be repaid from business proceeds with the ultimate objective of Craig being restored as director and having control of the park returned to him. Zion Wildlife Gardens is the park operating company and Country Developments own the land on which the park is located. Craig remains a major shareholder in both companies. http:/

In 2007 a further agreement was signed but the relationship between Craig and his mother deteriorated. We allege that park staff were instructed not to work with Craig, speak to him or have anything to do with him.http:/¬e_id=137097514918&id=43253796601#/video/video.php?v=129108107048

In June 2008, Craig felt that the welfare of the animals was being compromised by the ongoing situation and he made a report to MAF.

On November 3rd 2008 Craig was dismissed from Zion Wildlife Gardens and he began a grievance claim for unfair dismissal. http:/
Since he was no longer a ZWG employee Craig's Operator licence was revoked by MAF. Glen Holland, a former director of Auckland Zoo took over as MAF Operator and manager of the park.

In February 2009, employee, Demetri Price was bitten by a white tiger. http:/
He later spoke out about his safety concerns at the park. http:/

The Employment relations authority hearing began on 26th May but was tragically interrupted on the second day by an incident at ZWG, where Dalu MnCube, a senior cat handler was killed and Abu, a male white tiger, was shot dead.

Craig gave a press conference following the tragedy which you can view here http:/
There are further news reports about the incident here
Zion Wildlife Gardens was closed down http:/

It re-opened just under a month later with a new operator, Tim Husband. http:/
In July 2009 it was revealed in a 20/20 TV programme that Dalu MnCube was in NZ under a false passport.

On 3rd August 2009 Craig decided to withdraw his grievance claim against ZWG, as he is pursuing this matter via the High Court as explained here -http:/

Zion Wildlife Gardens are however continuing a counterclaim against Craig which was heard in part on 3rd and 4th August. We are currently awaiting a date for this hearing to be concluded

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