The owner of the Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary in Northland says she’s in a battle to save the animals after the company went into liquidation.
Big Cats Limited, which operates Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary, announced on Tuesday morning an order for liquidation was made by the High Court in Whangārei on March 1.
Director of Big Cats Limited Janette Vallance told AM on Wednesday they have a very large tax debt they can’t cover.
They had payment plans in place, but after having a “dreadful” summer, that all went “pear-shaped” quickly.
Vallance said they’re down to skeleton staff, which is being funded by the liquidator, but reiterated the cats are fine.
“The cats are fine, I can only just keep reiterating that. Cats are absolutely fine. We have plenty of food. They’re being very well looked after, it’s just that our doors are closed,” Vallance told AM co-host Ryan Bridge.
Vallance said she’s on a tight timeframe with the liquidator to get a plan in place to operate the facility.
“I’m trying to find enough funds for four weeks of skeleton staff so we can get ourselves a new company or put the groundwork in for some other arrangement to operate the facility,” she said.
“Something along the lines of whether it was another company with some other shareholders. [Or] if someone had money to invest or alternatively set up a charitable trust, which takes time.
“It’s all point in negotiation the whole time though, so everything’s got to be cost-effective so that it doesn’t become the not cost-effective option and then they want to go down the other line.”
Vallance said the “other line” is euthanasia.
“These cats really can’t go anywhere else. They’re between 16 and 22 years of age and while they’re really fit and healthy right now, most zoos would consider that too old and wouldn’t be willing to take them on,” she said.
Vallance said she’s “very stubborn” and won’t let the cats get euthanised.
“As I say, it won’t happen over my dead body and I reckon there’ll be some staff lining up there as well,” she said.
“I won’t let it happen, I’m very stubborn, and we’re not gone yet. There will be a way.”
Watch the full interview with Janette Vallance in the video above.