A group of parrots has been moved into a new home – a pub garden.
The macaws are the latest exotic creatures to move in at the Fenn Bell Inn, St Mary Hoo, after landlord Andy Cowell turned the pub into a safe haven for unwanted animals of all shapes and sizes.
The dad-of-two used to rescue animals at his farm in Stoke Road but when the number reached 200 his wife Kelly put her foot down and said no more.
So when Shepherd Neame said it was shutting down the Fenn Bell Inn, Mr Cowell wrote to them about his dream of opening Medway’s first zoo in a pub garden and the brewers loved the idea.
The couple moved into the 17th century pub two years ago and have been gradually moving the animals in.
Fruit farmer AC Goatham and Son, whose Turkey Hall Farm borders the pub, has now donated £5,000 to sponsor the new macaw aviary.
The birds join marmosets, squirrel monkeys, a coati – a south American racoon – kune kune pigs, great grey owls and geese, who have already moved in.
Mr Cowell said: “This is somewhere for the local community and families in particular to go and to see a large range of exotic animals. We are working towards not just the conservation of the animals for the future but are also helping provide an education resource, contribute to tourism for Hoo and of course we will be creating extra jobs.
“We also aim to inspire local kids who want to be the next David Attenborough and what better place to learn than here on their doorstep.”
Carol Ford, AC Goatham and Son’s commercial director, said: “We met the team from the Fenn Bell Inn last year after we took on a 20-year lease on the neighbouring land at Turkey Hall Farm, which we are bringing back into use as commercial orchards.
“We are passionate about conserving the fruit growing tradition here in Medway and we are equally impressed with the passion of the team at the Inn, who are helping save these different species of animals and birds.”
Mr Cowell submitted a planning application to Medway Council in March for permission to build a zoo.