The Fenn Bell Inn has all the usual trappings of a modern British pub: proper ales, fish and chips, Sunday roasts, curry nights, karaoke. But its backyard is something a little less conventional. There, a miniature railway winds around four acres of land that is home to meerkats, monkeys, and more. Earlier this month, the Kent establishment became the first pub in the United Kingdom to be granted a zoo license.
The menagerie was started in 2011, when co-owner Andy Cowell adopted two kunekune pigs named Ginger and Spice. “We took in pets people didn’t want and we got visitors coming around to see them all,” Cowell told the Mirror. “My wife Kelly said you should turn it into a zoo, so we bought the pub and we have finally done it.” The unusual combination opened in 2014, and is now home to geese, South American coatis, lemurs, parrots, and a raccoon, among other exotic rescues.
The Cowells now plan to expand their zoo and open more of the existing enclosures to the public. “Going forward we are hoping to get more lemurs, otters, some wolves and big cats,” said Cowell. The pub also plans to offer tours to school groups, and partner with other zoos on conservation projects. The official license makes all the difference, Cowell wrote on the pub’s Facebook page. “We’re not a boozer with animals, we’re now a zoo!”