The documentary is named “Britain’s Tiger Kings” in a nod to the hit US-based Netflix series “Tiger King”, and explores the prevalence of exotic pets in the UK.
What will the documentary cover?
Over the course of two episodes, presenter and former EastEnders actor Ross Kemp will interview and meet with the Brits who keep exotic animals as pets, finding out what motivates someone to keep wild animals in and around their home.
One couple Ross meets is Andrew Riddel and his partner Tracy, who live in Lincolnshire and own over 200 animals, including zebras, brown bears and lions.
In spite of having no formal training in keeping dangerous animals, both Andrew and Tracy insist that their animals have a high quality of life.
Ross also meets with Reece Oliver, a Nottinghamshire man who owns a lion, lioness and puma.
In the vein of Joe Exotic, Reece feels strongly about his dangerous pets, in one scene even giving his pet lion a kiss on the lips.
The documentary sees Reece defend the practice of keeping wild animals as pets, saying that he looks after the animals as though they’re his own children.
“They are better off here with me, I’d never give them up,” Reece tells Ross in one scene.
He suggests that the animals would have a much lower quality of life were they handed over to a zoo or sanctuary.
“If you take those lions away from me or from the setting they know, it is going to be stressful for them. They’re happy here and love me”, he says.
The documentary sees Ross question whether it is in exotic animals’ best interests to be kept as pets, with a number of animal welfare charities speaking out against the practice.
Where can I watch it?
The documentary is split into two hour-long parts and starts on ITV on Tuesday, March 30 at 9pm.
It will be available to watch on the ITV hub shortly afterwards.
How many exotic pets are in the UK - and is it legal?
Though exotic pet-keeping isn’t as common in the UK as it is in the US, there are an estimated 4,000 exotic pets in the UK.
Under current UK legislation, the practice is legal, but requires a licence from the local authority.
Under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, Brits must prove that their animals are being properly contained and thus do not present a threat to the public.
How can I watch the original Tiger King?
If you missed last year’s Netflix sensation, Tiger King, there’s no need to panic - all the episodes are still available to stream on Netflix UK.
The show became a hit during the first UK lockdown in 2020 as people confined to their homes became fixated on the bizarre cast of characters in the show, almost all of whom harbour an obsession with tigers.
Joe Exotic, the ostensible star of Tiger King, was jailed in 2018 on counts of animal abuse and attempted murder for hire after plots to kill his nemesis and animal rights activist Carole Baskin.
Prior to President Trump leaving the White House, Mr Exotic believed he may receive a presidential pardon – but this did not arise.