Tauranga wildlife park gets second chance

A Tauranga property housing a wildlife park has been withdrawn from a forced auction after its owners were given extra time to try and repay debt.

The Living Art Wildlife Park, owned by Mark and Caroline Paterson and home to hundreds of animals and plenty of debt, was to go under the hammer yesterday.

But with financiers breathing down their neck, Mr Paterson today said the couple had won a High Court injunction on the sale going ahead.

They now have a one-month stay of execution to allow them to pursue a sub-division development on their property and raise money.

Mr Paterson said publicity in the local Bay of Plenty Times about the couple's plight had sparked plenty of positive reaction and the couple hoped to raise enough money to put a big dent in the mortgage.

They have also had someone donate money to set up a charitable trust and bank account so people could donate money towards a goal of turning the park into a zoo.

"We have to work hard in the next month to get everything in place to make it happen," Mr Paterson told NZPA.

He said the park was initially set up with the intention of creating a zoo for Tauranga, along with being a place where injured or unwanted animals could go.

But it became a financial struggle after a while and debt got worse when the couple had to go to finance companies rather than banks to keep the place running.

A miserable winter and tough economic times, including finance industry woes, had inflamed the situation.

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