A pub is set for a wild party to celebrate being the first in the country to be granted a zoo licence.

Last week the team at The Fenn Bell Inn, in St Mary Hoo, Kent, achieved its long standing dream of becoming a zoo pub when Medway Council granted it an official licence.

It has been a long road for landlord and animal lover Andy Cowell who took over the Shepherd Neame pub in 2014, primarily as a place to home his growing collection of exotic animals.

Now the zoo is open to the public and they will be able to enjoy a drink and see the animals, which include:

 

 

• Four different breeds of monkey
• Genets – an African wild cat
• Meerkats
• Birds of prey
• Exotic birds
• Racoons
• Coatis

 

 

And getting the full licence means the pub can technically keep any type of animal - just as long as it can provide the required enclosure.

Mr Cowell said: "If someone turned up here with a pet lion that they didn't want any longer we could keep it.

"Obviously, you need the appropriate amount of space for animals such as elephants but we are looking to grow over the years to come.

"Going forward we are hoping to get more lemurs, otters, some wolves and big cats.

"It will get as big as we can make it, depending on how much land we can buy to extend it. We want to give people something that will provide some joy and great memories."

So far, the project has cost Mr Cowell, who also runs a shower parts business with his wife Kelly, around £300,000.

 

 

The weekly running cost of staffing the zoo and feeding the animals is north of £700 – equivalent to around 233 pints of beer.

The addition of the zoo highlights how many pubs have diversified in recent years to grow their businesses.

Mr Cowell, 47, turned to crowd funding for extra security last year after two macaws were stolen from an aviary.

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

He is also looking at private backing, zoo keeper days and projects with schools to bring in extra revenue.

 

Click this link to see the video of Inapub visiting the Fenn Bell Inn.