Devon zoo family join A-listers at red carpet film premiere
A family from Devon rubbed shoulders with stars of the big screen at the New York premiere of a film inspired by their lives.
We Bought A Zoo, starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, is about the Mee family’s purchase of Dartmoor Zoo in 2006.
Ben Mee, 46, and his children Milo, 10, and Ella, eight, flew to the Big Apple for the film premiere on Monday evening.
Walking the red carpet at the Zeigfeld Theatre, the Mee family mingled with celebrity A-listers including actors Elle Fanning and Thomas Haden Church.
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Before his time in the spotlight Mr Mee said: “I’m not interested in that whole glam-glitzy thing and I don’t know what you're supposed to do.”
The Cameron Crowe-directed movie is based on the memoir by Ben Mee, which chronicles how the author and his family spent their life savings to buy Dartmoor Zoological Park – a rundown attraction in the Westcountry which homed 200 exotic animals facing extinction.
Mr Mee said the family had simply been looking for properties when they first had the idea of buying the zoo.
He said: “We got the estate agents’ details with lots of bedrooms, huge grounds and then, as we turned the pages of the details, lions, tigers, bears and wolves.
“Initially we just laughed and thought ‘this is insane, nobody would buy a place like this and certainly not us’.
“But the more we thought about it, we thought ‘someone is going to buy it’ and we looked into it and realised that if nobody else bought it then the collection of animals would be largely euthanised.”
Mr Mee said he hoped the film would entice more visitors to the zoo.
He said: “If we get five times the visitors next year, that will be half a million people, so if half a million people do come here they’ll want to stay somewhere.
“It should be a huge boost to the region which I’m really pleased about.”
The film is scheduled to be released in the UK in March.