A family who bought a rundown zoo in Devon has become the unlikely inspiration for a Hollywood movie.
The film, starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, tells the story of Ben Mee's family who bought the zoo despite having no experience of animals and only limited funds.
Mr Mee, 45, a former newspaper DIY columnist, his brother Duncan, 47, and their mother Amelia, 76, purchased the Dartmoor Zoological Park in August 2006 for £1.1m.
"Our first offer was rejected because we had no experience and no real money to invest but nearly a year later I saw that the zoo was still up for sale and this time the animals would have to be shot if a buyer wasn't found," he said.
After finally buying the zoo, Mr Mee, his wife Katherine and their children Milo, six, and Ella, four, moved into the decaying mansion that occupies the park.
They found themselves the proud owners of five Siberian tigers, three African lions, nine wolves, three brown bears, two pumas, a lynx, four Asian short-clawed otters, two flamingoes, a flock of owls, a Brazilian tapir called Ronnie, vervet monkeys, several emus, a herd of deer, a llama, various reptiles, boa constrictors and a tarantula spider.
After a major refurbishment project, detailed in Mr Mee's subsequent book We Bought a Zoo, the family re-opened the zoo for business in July 2007.
However, just months before the grand re-opening tragedy struck when Katherine Mee died from a re-occurrence of an aggressive, fast-growing brain tumour.
Mr Mee said: "Towards the end, I would take her in the wheelchair to see the tigers. You could tell she was still moved by the wonder of them."
His book became a best-seller in the US and 20th Century Fox bought the film rights. The movie, directed by Cameron Crowe, is expected to be released at the end of 2011.