The future of the Scottish Deer Centre in Cupar is secure thanks to a buyout by local entrepreneurs.
Fife-based gaming guru David Hamilton and Dundee businessman Gavin Findlay have bought the park, which plunged into administration last year.
Mr Hamilton, 36, who lives in Wormit, recently sold his Dundee games studio Ninja Kiwi in a deal worth an estimated £135 million.
Both have young children who previously enjoyed visiting the centre and hope to reopen by the end of this month.
The park is home to 12 species of deer, wolves, a lynx, a Scottish wildcat and a European brown bear.
Deer Centre administration
The Scottish Deer Centre has been closed since April last year and was facing an uncertain future.
It initially closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
I was devastated that I wasn’t able to take my kids to see Santa there last year.”
New owner David Hamilton.
But its owners Edinburgh Woollen Mill collapsed in November, putting 2,000 jobs at risk across the business.
A rescue deal has since been agreed.
Mr Hamilton and Mr Findlay, director of G2 Scaffolding, read of the centre’s troubles and contacted the joint administrators, specialist business advisory firm FRP.
They agreed a sale for an undisclosed sum and the businessmen intend to build on the centre’s success.
They say they want to ensure it remains a popular tourist attraction for families across Scotland.
Mr Hamilton said: “I have lived in Wormit all my life, with my dad growing up in Cupar and the deer centre has always been somewhere we went.
“I was devastated that I wasn’t able to take my kids to see Santa there last year.
“When I found out it was due to the park unfortunately falling into Edinburgh Woollen Mill troubles, I got in touch with Wendy Chamberlain MP who helped with the purchase.”
He added: “I would also like to thank previous owner Philip Day from the EWM Group who personally phoned me to wish us well on something that meant a lot to him and his family.”
Mr Findlay, 38, said he was excited to see what could be done with the park.
“I love the outdoors and the welfare of animals,” he said.
“It has a great team of staff and we can’t wait to announce the plans we have along with getting the park back open when the guidelines allow us to.”
Deer Centre is a ‘valuable business’ in Fife
North East Fife Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain had expressed fears for the centre’s future.
She is delighted it now has new owners and is optimistic about the way forward.
“The Deer Centre is a valuable business here in north east Fife, creating jobs and supporting the local economy as a tourist attraction for locals and people across Scotland,” she said.
“This new chapter for them presents an opportunity for reinvigoration and new opportunities going forward which I will be excited to see come to life.
“Having liaised with David to see this sale go ahead, I am excited to see what they have in store for the Scottish Deer Centre’s future.”
Tony Wright, partner at FRP and joint administrator of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Limited, said: “The Scottish Deer Centre is a much-loved park.
“We’re pleased to have secured new owners and custodians of the site who can take it forward for families to enjoy well into the future.
“We wish the team all the best with their new venture.”
The new owners hope to open the park on May 28 for the spring bank holiday weekend.