Published: 07:00, 23 April 2017
After 16 years and more than 200 murals across Sittingbourne and Sheppey, artist Dean Tweedy has left Milton Regis and moved to Wales to become a zookeeper.
The man from Marvellous Murals announced in July last year that his family’s offer had been accepted on the Borth Animalarium , near Aberystwyth.
Although they already had 40 pets, including ducks and lizards, they have become the keepers of more than 300 animals since moving there on Tuesday, April 4.
The 48-year-old, his wife Tracy, and five of their seven children are living in a caravan while the current owners, who are in their 70s, give the family a crash course in zoo ownership before they take over at the end of the month.
Dean said: “It’s been going really well, but it’s early days – I mean, trying not to get eaten is a lot of it.
"We need to get to know each animal quickly and we’ve already had an injury. My daughter, Sarah, backed into a Shetland pony and was bitten on the bottom.
“It’s gorgeous here. It’s right on the coast with views of the beach and mountains behind us. It’s a little slice of paradise.”
He plans to give the zoo a makeover, adding a splash of colour to the homes of the lions, lizards, monkeys and emus among others, and rename it Borth Wild Animal Kingdom.
Tracy is a psychotherapist and plans to involve animals in her therapy session.
The final mural he painted in Sittingbourne was an April Fool’s joke on the floor of the Forum shopping centre but over the past few years he has decorated places such as the Sheppey Leisure Centre, numerous walls in alleys off Sittingbourne High Street and St Edward’s Primary School in Sheerness.
He said: “It feels very much like we are on holiday still but I’m sure that will change when the hard work begins and we take over. I will be coming back to Kent and I’m still painting.”
His assistant, Jaime Richards, will be keeping the mural business running now. Visit marvellousmurals.co.uk for more information.