Series

The Lion Man

Television, 2004–2007

Craig Busch aka The Lion Man is a self-taught big cat handler who has brought Barbary lions and white Bengal tigers to New Zealand. With both species extinct in the wild, Busch launched a breeding programme to add to limited numbers remaining in captivity. Great Southern Television produced three series following the often controversial Busch and his giant feline charges, from the early days of his Zion Wildlife Gardens park near Whangarei (later relaunched as The Kingdom of Zion). An international sales success, the show has played in more than 120 countries.

The Lion Man - First Episode

Television, 2004 (Full Length Episode)

Lion Man Craig Busch, and his unlikely colleagues — African lions and white Bengal tigers — were a ratings and international sales success across three TV seasons. The Lion Man went behind the scenes at his Zion Wildlife Gardens animal park. In this first episode of the Great Southern TV show, Busch talks about his introduction to working with the big cats — and the scars that are part of the job. There's also a peek at the making of an award-winning Sky TV promo that featured his lions. Busch, and the park, were later to be the centre of regular controversy.

Philip Smith

Producer

Television producer Philip Smith made his name with a stable of internationally-successful sports programmes. These days, as head of production company Great Southern Film and Television, he has been expanding from comic shows like Eating Media Lunch into other fields — including reality shows (Rescue 1), Moa-nominated telemovie The Kick and 2008 movie Apron Strings