Pub first in UK to be granted full zoo licence

A pub in Kent has become the first in the UK to be awarded a zoo licence, allowing it to display its collection of exotic animals to the public from its back garden.

The Fenn Bell Inn in Kent

Landlord and animal lover Andy Cowell moved into the Fenn Bell with his wife Kelly in 2014, his collection of exotic animals in tow, which include four different breeds of monkeys, genets (an African wild cat), meerkats, lemurs, birds of prey, racoons and South American coatis.

This month, after two and a half year of work, the pub was finally granted a full zoo licence by Medway Council, which means that the pub can now open its zoo to the public, and expand its collection, as long as it can provide the appropriate enclosure.

Posting on the pub’s Facebook page, Cowell said: “Our plan was to create a home for us and our animals and be able to share it with you guys. Looking back with hindsight we had no idea how hard that this would be and the challenge that faced us.

“I am pleased to say that today we have done it. With Medway Councils support our zoo licence has been granted. It’s very difficult to put into words what this means to us. I have pushed and pushed to achieve this and driven my family and best friends to the boundaries of insanity, the love and support they have shown me has been amazing and I will never be able to repay them.

“We’re not a boozer with animals, we are now a zoo. For me it’s a dream come true to finally get the big rubber stamp, this makes all of the hard work and effort official.”

Cowell, who also runs a show parts business, has further ambitions to expand the zoo, telling The Mirror that it will “get as big as we can make it”, depending on how much land they can buy.
So far, the project has cost Mr Cowell around £300,000, with the weekly running costs of staffing and animal care just over £700.

“Running the pub is certainly cheaper than running a zoo,” he added. “We hope that having a thriving pub business all year round will help with the funding.”

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