U.K. broadcaster ITV has slated a two-part documentary series tracking down Britain’s own “tiger and lion kings” for late spring. Tentatively titled Britain’s Tiger Kings – On the Trail With Ross Kemp, the award-winning documentary filmmaker (pictured) goes on a journey to learn why people would want to keep exotic animals while also posing the question if it’s in the best interests of the animal to do so.
It’s believed that there are approximately 4,000 exotic animals including lions, tigers, bears, crocodiles and giant snakes in private hands in the U.K., and in the two-parter, filmed in line with COVID-19 production regulations, Kemp meets a man who keeps two lions in his backyard, and a couple that owns a 200-plus menagerie animal collection, among other amateur “zookeepers”.
“When I first started making these films I didn’t think it was possible to privately own a lion or a tiger in this country. I’ve found it truly eye-opening and disturbing to discover just how easy it is to source one and get permission to keep it legally,” Kemp said in a statement.
“It’s important to remember that all the big cats I came into contact with were born into captivity and therefore wouldn’t survive in the wild. But when I asked if they would consider sending their cat to a sanctuary which offers something close to a natural habitat, the answer was often no.”
The program is produced by Honey Bee (Agatha Christie: 100 Years of Poirot) in association with Freshwater Films, and is executive produced by Ed Taylor and Ross Kemp, and produced by Johnny McDevitt.