A visitor attraction with rare and exotic animals is up for sale – and already attracting interest from potential buyers.

Property agents who have been marketing the Ponderosa Rare Breeds Farm at Heckmondwike for just over a week said they were already pleased with the response.

After a successful battle against cancer and at the age of 70, builder Howard Cook has decided to sell the visitor centre to focus on developing the rest of the 80-acre Ponderosa site, off Smithies Lane.

The Examiner reported earlier this month how Howard and his wife care for up to 70 people with learning difficulties, disabilities and dementia at Park Farm. Now they want to expand that by building a 50-bed care home.

Howard Cook, owner of Ponderosa in Heckmondwike
Howard Cook, owner of Ponderosa in Heckmondwike
 

Commercial property agents CBRE and Michael Steel & Co have been appointed joint agents to sell the visitor attraction, which occupies a seven-acre site and posted turnover of £1.15m in 2013.

Offers around £1.3m plus VAT are being invited for the site, which includes ponds, wildlife areas, grassland, an 80-space car park, various buildings and animal enclosures, a cafe and ice cream parlour, a 150-seat restaurant, kitchen and outside terrace, a second 50-seater restaurant and bar and an outdoor children’s play area.

The business will be sold with all the animals on site. They include llamas, meerkats, reindeer, pigs, otters, birds, snakes, iguanas and spiders.

Alec Michael, of Michael Steel & Co in Leeds, said: “It is safe to say that this is a relatively unusual instruction.

“But we have been pleased by the response we have received from private investors and from some of the larger regional and national leisure operators.

“We have been marketing the site for only a week or so, but we have already had a number of requests for further information and some fairly detailed conversations with some parties and their agents.”

Mr Michael said potential buyers were looking to continue running the complex and taking it to the next level.

He said: “If the initial interest is anything to go by, we are fairly confident that we will be getting into detailed negotiations sooner rather than later.”

Speaking to the Examiner, Mr Cook said the decision to sell had come about because of his cancer, adding: “I have had a reprieve and I don’t want to waste any more time. I want to return to what I love doing - caring for others.”

Ponderosa opened more than 20 years ago and is a popular attraction for families from across West Yorkshire.

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