While a few of the cats kept are semi-wild, the majority of the cats have been hand reared at the park.
Craig Busch established Zion Wildlife Gardens in 2002 from bare land situated on Gray Road, Kamo, Whangarei. Busch had previously had the zoo based at Kerikeri.
During 2006 Zion Wildlife Gardens became financially troubled. Busch accepted a bail out package from his mother Patricia Busch, and in accordance with an agreement dated 13 July 2006, he resigned as director and appointed Mrs Busch, as sole director.
During November 2008, media reports revealed an investigation into the welfare of the cats at the zoo had been conducted by MAF. Concerns included animals being kept in unsanitory conditions, damaged enclosures and the surgical declawing of 21 lions and 9 tigers.