Tarkine Animal Park has been forced to close its doors indefinitely after the lease was cut three years short on December 17 when foreign investors placed the property on the market.
The popular tourist destination first shut down in March as a COVID-19 safety measure and was due to reopen in mid July, but when the time came owner Crighton Horton and business partner Ingrid Oosting were asked to address a number of issues to bring the park in line with council regulations.
Finally ironing it all out in late December, the lease was cut, forcing Crighton to find a new place for his animals.
“We knew it was a lease, but we thought we had a lot longer when we signed on,” he said.
The animals on the property, which Crighton has had to continue to look after since the doors closed with no revenue coming in, will be re-homed to a number of different locations across Tasmania in the interim. Crighton maintains that none of the animals will be put down or mistreated in any way.
Though he is keen to reopen the park on a new site, Crighton says the conditions need to be right.
“If the right block in the right location opened up we’d be comfortable buying this time around,” he said.
“We’ve certainly put our feelers out.”
He says that the closure of the park could not have come at a worse time.
“It was really unfortunate, we had a lot of baby animals including ostriches and goats coming through which would have been fantastic,” he said.
Crighton also said that he appreciated the support from locals while the doors were open and was surprised to see so many visitors travelling down from up the coast.
“We had a lot of people driving down from Burnie, and from Devonport, some people coming down multiple times to have a look.
“I think it was the hands-on aspect. Being able to pat all of the animals and hold some of them was a slightly different experience for them.”
Though he would like to see the doors opened as soon as possible, Crighton says its unlikely he will see people through the gates before next summer.
“We won’t be able to open for at least eight to 10 months I would think,” he said.
“By the time we find a block and get approval, it’ll be quite awhile.”
Crighton was thankful for the input of Mayor Daryl Quilliam and General Manager Scott Riley as he worked with them to get the doors open following the COVID-19 shutdown period.
“They’ve really bent over backwards to help us get the doors open.”
Trevor the ostrich, seen here with owner Crighton Horton, has been forced to seek a new home after Tarkine Animal Park’s lease was cut three years short.