9 Dec 2008

'Lion Man' loses legal bid to get job back

5:53 pm on 9 December 2008

Whangarei's so-called Lion Man has failed in a legal bid to get his job back.

The Employment Relations Authority has declined to reinstate Craig Busch as the operator of Zion Wildlife Gardens.

Mr Busch, who achieved fame through television shows showing his close encounters with big cats, was sacked in November by the company he founded.

Zion Wildlife Gardens is now run by his mother, Patricia Busch, who bailed him out of debt in 2006.

Mr Busch is challenging his sacking in the Employment Court in January and wanted an interim injunction to reverse it until then.

However, the authority noted that four out of seven park staff said they had found Mr Busch impossible to work for and would resign if he came back.

The authority said Mr Busch could not return to work in any case, since he has lost his operator's licence, issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and is nursing a foot injury.

Mr Busch is also under investigation by MAF for declawing some of the lions and tigers he worked with.