Zoo owner says big cats are living wild in UK - and he's seen one

The owner of a West Country zoo which was immortalised in the Hollywood film 'We Bought a Zoo' starring Matt Damon, has claimed that big cats are living wild in Britain. Ben Mee, who has been running the zoo since 2006 and was portrayed by Damon in the movie, shared his encounter with a big cat in the UK during an interview for a new documentary airing this week.

He advised the public not to run if they come across one, but to speak to it in a soothing manner instead. Mee's interview is part of the latest episode of the new TV series 'Weird Britain', set to air tonight (Wed) on Blaze.

The show, hosted by Andy McGrath, delves into strange mysteries and peculiar folklore from around Britain. In this episode, McGrath investigates the legend of the Beast of Exmoor and visits Dartmoor Zoo to interview its owner.

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During the interview, Mee not only expressed his belief that big cats can survive in the wilds of Britain, but also claimed to have seen one himself. Recalling the incident, he said: "I picked up my brother from the station, and his business partner at the time, and we were driving back into the village at midnight, and I slowed down to let what looked like a deer cross the road, because a deer is silly enough to make a sudden jump.

"We waited to watch this animal in the headlights. We were able to get a good look at it and it wasn't a deer at all it was a big cat, it was a puma."

Ben mentioned that it's highly unlikely to encounter a big cat in the wild. But he did share some advice on how to stay safe if you happen to come across one.

He said: "They know you're there a long time before you bump into them, their senses, their eyesight and their smell is ten times what we've got, and they're stealthy, even a big cat would rather you didn't bump into it, but if you did bump into it don't run away, talk soothingly, and step backwards as much as you can."

There have been many sightings of big cats in Gloucestershire. DNA from a black hair sample, snagged on a fence at a Gloucestershire farm, was found to have 99 per cent chance it was a black leopard.. The creatures also hit the headlines when presenter Clare Balding spotted a mysterious animal in the Wye Valley while she was recording a BBC Radio 4 episode.

The latest instalment of 'Weird Britain' airs tonight (Wed) at 10pm on BLAZE (Freeview 64), with catch-up options available at BLAZE. tv.