Controversial reserve for sale

Seaview Predator Park wners Janice and Rusty Gibb with Joshua the giraffe Picture: Eugene Coetzee
Seaview Predator Park wners Janice and Rusty Gibb with Joshua the giraffe
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

The controversial Seaview Predator Park is on the market for just under R20-million – a price that will include all animals and vehicles.

After almost 20 years, owners Rusty and Janice Gibb decided to put the park on the market, saying yesterday they hoped they would find buyers with a “similar passion and drive for animals”.

The park’s management came under fire from environmentalists in 2014 after an investigation in Weekend Post’s sister newspaper The Herald revealed that lions and tigers were being sold to farms known for hunting and the exporting of animal bones.

One of the hunting farms was linked to the Laos-based Xaysavang Network, which has been described as “one of the most prolific international wildlife trafficking syndicates in operation”.

Shortly after the investigation, an international placement agency that sent volunteers to work at Seaview Predator Park booted the wildlife reserve from its programme as Seaview failed to provide proof that it did not sell lions for hunting.

The property was listed in May after the staff had been informed about the possible sale.

Yesterday the couple said the publicity had been bad for business and the park had “never fully recovered from then onwards”.

They said they had “always complied with the laws and regulations for keeping wild cats”.

Remax agent Mathilda Fulton, a small farm/holding specialist with a passion for nature, said she had been approached by the Gibbs as well as listing agent Wendy McDonald from McDonald Property to take over the marketing aspect of the sale.

“They approached me because of the passion we both share for nature and conservation. We would like to see the park being conserved as a heritage site in the Bay for future generations to enjoy,” she said.

“For the sellers’ vision to become a reality, we had to market it as an opportunity for future conservationists to possibly use the park as a conservation training academy [or] as a national park.

“The infrastructure is already in place.

“It’s been running successfully for the past 18 years, so if a willing buyer comes along with the same vision and brief, then I can make that dream become a reality.”

The Gibbs, who bought the park in 1996, started with only 31 hectares of land and a variety of animals including a giraffe, a bush buck, three lions and three cubs, four impala and a wildebeest, as well as some primates.

“When we first bought the park, it needed a lot of TLC, and an injection of capital. We had to invest a lot of time in bringing it to the state you see it in today,” Rusty said.

“We pretty soon realised that the area we had was not big enough and we then set out to increase the size of the area, buying various adjoining plots over a number of years.

“The buyer needs to ensure that the park is used for the purpose of loving the animals in here, and to continue with the conservation work we have already begun.”

Today, the park boasts a total of 120 hectares and a host of enclosed as well as free-roaming animals.

The property has a manager’s cottage, a restaurant, wooden cabins, braai facilities, an animal meat fridge and freezer, public ablution blocks, disabled facilities, workshops and garages, as well as many other features.

The park’s sale would include various vehicles as well as machinery used in the daily operation of the park.

The Gibbs said they wanted to travel and visit family overseas.

“It would be nice if we could take a break, as we have been involved in this industry for close to two decades, so I think someone needs to come in who can invest more time in the park, more than we can at the moment,” Janice said.

She hoped the prospective buyer would hold onto the staff, which consists of 13 people.

She said the staff had a wealth of experience in working with the animals in the park.

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