The St. Louis Zoo is making plans to acquire the family attraction Grant’s Farm from the Busch Family Real Estate Trust.
In a news release about its proposal, the Zoo included statements of support from people such as St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger: “Ownership and operation of Grant’s Farm by one of the world’s great zoos is the best way to ensure both the growth of the St. Louis Zoo and Grant’s Farm.”
The purchase price is estimated at $30 million. Anheuser-Busch InBev has said it would donate most of that money. The Zoo intends to use the space for research, animal husbandry and breeding endangered species. In a statement, the Zoo’s board said the deal would be contingent on public support for the funds needed to operate Grant’s Farm. The attraction is currently operated by the brewery.
Despite what he said was legal advice to the contrary William K. "Billy" Busch, president and CEO of the William K Busch Brewing Company, spoke against the sale. Busch said in a statement that he, too, has made an offer to purchase the property and the issue is in litigation. According to Busch, his purchase is motivated by personal attachment to the land.
“It would be privately owned — Busch family-owned — and would not have to be purchased or supported with any hard-earned taxpayer dollars from the public,” he said in the statement.
Four of Billy Busch's siblings— Trudy Busch Valentine, Beatrice Busch Von Gontard, Peter Busch and Andrew Busch — support the Zoo buying the property. Their statement said, ”We are excited about the opportunity for the Zoo to acquire Grant’s Farm. Acquisition of Grant’s Farm by the Zoo will fulfill our father’s strong desire that this beloved institution be maintained intact for benefit of the community as a free animal attraction open to the public. Ownership and operation of Grant’s Farm by one of the world’s best zoos would assure that families will be able to enjoy a great outing at Grant’s Farm for many generations to come.”
Their father is August Anheuser "Gussie" Busch Jr.
A public vote would be required if the Zoo proceeds with its plan to purchase the family attraction and seeks a tax increase to raise operating funds.
Anheuser-Busch said that if the sale does not go through it will continue to operate Grant’s Farm as it has for 61 years.