Saint Louis Zoo withdrawing offer to purchase Grant's Farm - KMOV.com

Saint Louis Zoo withdrawing offer to purchase Grant's Farm

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St. Louis Zoo (Credit: KMOV) St. Louis Zoo (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Citing disputes about ownership within the Busch family, the Saint Louis Zoo is no longer seeking to purchase Grant's Farm. 

Matthew Geekie, president of the Saint Louis Zoo's Board of Directors, said the zoo realizes that ownership of the 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," Geekie said in a press release. 

The announcement of the zoo's withdrawal came around noon on Friday. The zoo said it was approached by the Busch Family Real Estate Trust owner, which owns Grant's Farm, in 2013. The Trust, which represents the Busch family, told the zoo about there was a desire for the farm to be owned and operated by the zoo. The Trust said they believed the Saint Louis Zoo was the best organization to fulfill the vision for the farm's founder, August Anheuser Busch Jr., according to the zoo.

Now, the six heirs of August Busch, who are beneficiaries of the Trust, are in litigation about whether the property should be sold to the Saint Louis Zoo or to a Busch family member. A hearing regarding the sale was set for March 28 by St. Louis Circuit Court Probate Commissioner Patrick Connaghan. 

Geekie said the zoo conducted a survey of the region about the zoo owning Grant's Farm. The results said while people love the zoo, they believe Grant's Farm should stay with the Busch Family. 

President and CEO of William K Busch Brewing Co., Billy Busch, released his plans to purchase Grant's Farm on March 2. Busch released a statement after the zoo announced it's plan to withdraw it's offer. 

"We appreciate the zoo's position in this matter, and we are confident we will be able to collaborate in the future to help Grant's Farm and our world-class Saint Louis Zoo continue serving everyone in the greater St. Louis region and beyond," Billy Busch said in the statement. 

Moving forward, Geekie said the next step for the zoo is to focus on their long-range planning process, which includes addressing a potential financial shortfall expected in the next few years. 

"Above all, we will continue to focus our attention on ensuring the Saint Louis Zoo remains among the world's best zoos. 

Geekie also said the Zoo Association and the leadership of the Saint Louis Zoo appreciate the generous offer from Anheuser-Busch to cover the cost of the acquisition. 

Several other members of the Busch Family who supported the zoo's push to buy Grant's Farm:

It is disappointing that the St. Louis Zoo Association has withdrawn its offer to purchase Grant’s Farm from the Busch Family Real Estate Trust.

We remain committed to making sure that Grant's Farm is open for the public to enjoy long into the future, as our father wanted. We will continue to discuss solutions to meet this objective.

The St. Louis Zoo is a wonderful St. Louis treasure -- world renowned in animal care and the visitor experience.

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