Who is Nottinghamshire wild animal keeper Reece Oliver - star of new ITV documentary Britain's Tiger Kings with Ross Kemp?

A Nottinghamshire man who keeps wild animals in his back garden will appear in new television documentary Britain’s Tiger Kings – On The Trail.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 8:00 pm

The life of Britain s very own ‘Joe Exotics’ – people who look after dangerous wild animals - will be revealed in a new two-part series by Ross Kemp, which starts tonight.

The nation was gripped by Joe Exotic, the main man of Netflix’s Tiger King during the first lockdown last year.

Now Ross Kemp, the EastEnders-star-turned-documentary-maker, will meet with some of the country's exotic animal owners as he tries to find out what makes someone want to own a 250kg wild animal.

Ross Kemp with a Bengal tigers at Heythrop Zoological Garden in Oxfordshire (Picture: ITV)
Ross Kemp with a Bengal tigers at Heythrop Zoological Garden in Oxfordshire (Picture: ITV)

One of the 'Tiger Kings' featured in the show is Reece Oliver, who lives in a village in Nottinghamshire.

Viewers will see the 29-year-old getting up close and personal with his pet lion - even giving him a kiss on the lips.

Reece, from Strelley, is licensed wild animal keeper and also looks after two African lion cubs, named Rocky and Rora, that he rescued from a Czech Republic circus in February 2019, in his back garden.

The animals have have caused fierce division in the village where they are kept, with some neighbours expressing concern about their well-being.

Reece defends owning wild animals and says he bring his animals up like children, and they would be worse off in a zoo or sanctuary without him.

When Ross asks him if he thinks his plot of land is big enough compared to sanctuaries, he says it is not and he is putting a planning application in to make the area bigger.

Reece says: At the end of the day, if you take those lions away from me, or from the setting that they know, it’s gonna be stressful for them.

"It’s not the best for the animals. They’re happy here and they love me. When I’m not there, they kind of miss me and then when I’m there, they’re like puppy dogs."

With animal rights groups and some of his neighbours in opposition to his wild animal collection, Ross asks what might have motivated Reece’s obsession, to which he replies: "I like to take risks. I’m a bit unique, you know, I always want something different and I like to be different.

"And I don’t really—I’ve gone past the point in my life where I care so much about what people think."

It's understood there are around 4,000 wild animals including lions, tigers, bears, crocodiles and giant snakes in private hands across the country.

The first episode of Britain's Tiger Kings - On The Trail With Ross Kemp will air on ITV on tonight (March 30). It starts at 9pm and lasts an hour.

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