Britain's Tiger Kings - On The Trail With Ross Kemp Starts Tonight
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Featured Image Credit: ITV
Now, Ross Kemp is looking for Britain's very own answer to Joe Exotic in his own documentary series, titled Britain's Tiger Kings - On The Trail With Ross Kemp - and we can't wait.
The first of a two-part series, which airs tonight on ITV, will see the award-winning documentary maker meet big cat enthusiasts here in Blighty, and ask whether it is healthy for them to keep such animals in captivity.
Among the 'Tiger Kings' that Ross meet in the first episode include Reece Oliver, who keeps two lions in his Nottinghamshire back garden. The African lion cubs, named Rocky and Rora, were rescued from a Czech Republic circus in 2019, and join a puma and two monkeys Reece reportedly also owns.
Also featuring in part one is Jim Clubb, a former circus trainer who now trains exotic animals for work on film and TV. While Jim's various big cats have featured in blockbusters including Prince Of Persia and Clash Of The Titans, Jim's company has found itself at the centre of controversy over concerns about how he treats animals in his care.
While keeping big cats seems like something that is more common in exotic climes, tigers and lions are more commonplace in Britain than you may think. Surprisingly, it is thought there are as many as 4,000 animals including lions, tigers, bears, crocodiles and giant snakes in private hands in the country.
Speaking about his latest documentary, Ross explained: "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.
"These programmes explore what motivates someone to want to own a wild animal - whether it be a tiger, a lion, a 20ft snake or even a crocodile, and whether it is right to do so. It certainly is a complex and emotive subject, and I found that some of the people who kept wild animals were quite extraordinary.
"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."
Britain's Tiger Kings - On The Trail With Ross Kemp will air tonight at 9pm on ITV.