MELBOURNE, Australia – The widow of television's "Crocodile Hunter" on Wednesday lost the first round in a legal battle over more than $2.3 million dollars the conservationist's zoo allegedly owes creditors.
Alyssa Treasury Services, a debt recovery agency, is suing Australia Zoo, the wildlife park that was operated by Steve Irwin and his widow, Terri, for money allegedly owed to trustee partners.
The full details of the suit have yet to be released. But documents presented to the court indicate Singapore-based investment bank HQZ Argentum helped set up the trust, which then ran into trouble with the Australian Tax Office.
On Wednesday, Judge Maree Kennedy of the County Court in southern Victoria state, where the suit was filed last month, ruled against Terri Irwin's application that the case be heard in the northern state of Queensland. Australia Zoo, where Terri Irwin lives, is in Queensland.
Steve Irwin built a worldwide audience and a multimillion-dollar business around his television persona as an animal lover and conservationist -- and fearless bare-knuckle crocodile wrangler.
He was killed in a stingray attack in 2006 while filming a television series.
In documents presented to the court, Alyssa Treasury Services alleges Australia Zoo and people connected to it did not honor bills of exchange amounting to millions of dollars owed under complex business restructuring arrangements.
One part of the suit claims Terri Irwin personally owes $56,000.
Irwin's lawyers had argued the civil case should be heard in Queensland because many of the likely witnesses were based there.
The full trial is expected to start in October.