Life in the small Nottinghamshire village where lions live in a back garden

Residents of Strelley village have had their say on a local lion keeper’s plans to extend one of his enclosures and build a new lions’ den.

Reece Oliver, a licensed zoo keeper, looks after two African lions called Rocky and Rora in an enclosure, alongside a Canadian puma called Rogue – all in the small Nottinghamshire village of Strelley.

He successfully applied for permission from Broxtowe Borough Council to construct a new lions’ den, extend an enclosure and also construct a stable extension.

Mr Oliver says the latest plans are essential for “animal welfare and security reasons”.

Other residents who live in the village have voiced their opinions on Mr Oliver’s plans.

Friends Valerie Chipchase and Avril Fewkes regularly go for walks in the area and walk past where the lions live.

Valerie Chipchase, 72, who is retired and from Rise Park said: “I’m glad that I don’t live here, yes definitely.

“It’s the thought just in case they’re able to get out.



Reece Oliver pictured with lions Rora and Rocky.
Reece Oliver pictured with lions Rora and Rocky.

“Funnily enough we walked down there a few times and have never heard them.

“Lions have a distinctive roar you’d think that you’d hear but you don’t.”

Avril Fewkes ,64, retired NHS worker from Basford added: “You can hear it for miles around in the wild so it’s strange that you never hear anything here.”

Ms Chipchase added: “I am glad I don’t live round here but I love to come round here.

“The new compound, it says it’s going to be quite big from what I read this morning which is going to be a lot better for them.”

Avril Fewkes told Nottinghamshire Live: “I think they should be in the wild, I’m not even over keen on zoos.



Avril Fewkes and Valerie Chipchase who often walk past the lion den whilst going out for walks in Strelley.

“It’s good when they’re rescued but it’s not their natural environment, it’s not where they belong, but If they treat them well and they are secure.”

A local runner, who often runs in Strelley Village, said: “As far as I’m concerned, as long as they’re secure I suppose that is fine.

“I don’t like the thought of lions living in captivity anyway.

“I think security is the main issue.

“I did see a program on television and I thought that the enclosure looked very small compared to what other people had.

“So if that’s his aim then it’s a really good thing for them to have a better environment.”

Suzie Read, 46, Nurse from Kimberley said: “It doesn’t bother us, we live about a mile away from them but we always walk around here on a Sunday morning.

“It has never bothered us as we didn’t even know it was there until it was all on the TV a few months ago.

“I think if he is going to keep lions then it’s fair enough, he has to maintain the welfare of the animals and that’s important.

“It’s not an ideal situation to have those animals in captivity but he’s got them so they’ve got to have the best life for the animals whilst they’re there.”

Suzie’s husband Jason Read, 48 who works for the city hospital added: “We must’ve walked past it 100 times and never realised.”

Reece recently featured in documentaries by Ross Kemp and Stacey Dooley, offering an inside look into his world and introduced the world to the animals he keeps in the village.

Mr Oliver says the latest plans are essential for “animal welfare and security reasons” and should be granted in relation to previous plans already approved by the council.

Mr Oliver told Nottinghamshire Live: “I’m really pleased – it’s a great victory really for the lions we have here.

“They can now enjoy one of the bigger enclosures in the UK.

“We needed to expand what we had and make it better, even though it’s well above the minimum space required, we wanted to go well beyond that and get the best enclosure possible for them.”