Mid Wales

Family moves in with lions and snakes at Borth Animalarium

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Media captionWhat's it like to run your own zoo?

Lions, snakes and crocodiles are some of the 300 animals in Ceredigion which a family from Kent has moved in with.

Artist Dean Tweedy and his wife Tracy, along with their children, wanted a petting farm so psychotherapist Mrs Tweedy could run therapy sessions for people with mental illnesses.

But they instead bought The Animalarium - a zoo near Borth, for £625,000.

They have moved in with the animals - including the biggest attractions, lions Zulu and Wilma.

"Our friends and family reacted with surprise at first saying 'you've bought a zoo?'," said Mrs Tweedy.

"It was mainly disbelief, but for those who really know us it's not that surprising because we've always had dozens of animals.

Image caption Dean and Tracey Tweedy said staff at the zoo are helping them settle in

"People described our old house as being like a zoo. Now we actually have our own one."

The Animalarium had 27,000 visitors in 2016 and over the years it has taken on animals not wanted at other zoos because of over-breeding or from people unable to cope with them as pets.

Staffing and food costs about £12,000 per month and it was put on the market after the previous owners decided to retire.

The family now plan to extend the enclosures and put on more interactive tours, showcasing the animals.

"I just want to get in there and give them [the lions] a big squeeze and a hug but I've been told I'm not allowed because I'd probably lose my arms and die," added Mrs Tweedy.

"But maybe one day when they're sedated I can go in and give them a hug."

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