FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2016
Saint Louis Zoo Association Withdraws Offer to Purchase Grant's Farm
The Saint Louis Zoo Association, a 90-person volunteer leadership force representing the St. Louis region, today announced that it is withdrawing its offer to purchase Grant's Farm from the Busch Family Real Estate Trust, owner of the family attraction. In 2013, the Zoo Association was approached about this opportunity by the Trust representing the Busch Family. They expressed a desire for the Zoo to own and operate Grant's Farm because they thought the Zoo was the best organization to fulfill the vision for the farm of its founder, August Anheuser "Gussie" Busch Jr.
Since that time, divisions within the family have resulted in disputes about ownership of the attraction. The six heirs of Gussie Busch, who are beneficiaries of the trust, are in litigation over whether the property should be sold to the Zoo or to a Busch family member. St. Louis Circuit Court Probate Commissioner Patrick Connaghan set a hearing for March 28 regarding the sale.
"We always said we would do what the people of the region wanted us to do, so we conducted a survey," said Matthew W. Geekie, President of the Saint Louis Zoo Association Board of Directors. "The response was loud and clear: the people of our region love the Saint Louis Zoo Association but they would prefer Grant's Farm stay in the Busch family and that the Zoo focus on ensuring that it remains an affordable, top quality attraction.
"We also realize at this point that the ownership of Grant's Farm will involve protracted litigation. Given that likelihood, it is in the best interest of the community, the family and the institution for the Zoo to withdraw its purchase offer. We do not want to be a party to causing a split within the Busch family, and we strongly believe we need consensus from that family to move forward with any plans for Grant's Farm.
"Our next step is to focus on our long-range planning process, including addressing a potential financial shortfall expected in the next few years. We will also look for other, affordable ways to find the space needed for animal husbandry, research and breeding endangered species. Above all, we will continue to focus our attention on ensuring the Saint Louis Zoo remains among the world's best zoos."
Geekie added that the Zoo Association and the Zoo's leadership appreciated the generous offer from Anheuser-Busch to cover the cost of the acquisition.
About the Saint Louis Zoo Association: The Saint Louis Zoo Association is a private, non-profit organization whose volunteer board is made up of business and community leaders, working with the zoo to provide leadership for fundraising and other activities.