Exotic animal display couple are refused permission for purpose built enclosures on the family farm near Guyhirn

One of the Mongooses in the Fens

One of the Mongooses in the Fens - Credit: Archant

A couple that give exotic animal talks to schools, nursing homes and parties as well as providing animals for film crews has been refused permission to develop their business.

Exotic animal encounter

Exotic animal encounter - Credit: Archant

The Exotic Animal Encounter, which has been running for three years, hoped to set up a covered building, a portable building and mobile home to give their animals more room.

Kelly and Matt Bates are not open to the public as the animals are their own pets which they currently keep at home - some indoors and some in large enclosures in their garden.

The pair hoped Fenland District Council would give permission for animal enclosures and a large outdoor exercise area so the creatures had more room in a safe, warm environment in a location that would not cause disturbance to neighbours.

The plan was on land at a family member’s farm near Guyhirn.

Phobia busting sessions with Exotic Animal Encounters

Phobia busting sessions with Exotic Animal Encounters - Credit: Archant


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Reptiles were planned for one building and mammals in another.

Kelly, whose parents are professional falconers and hold displays around the country, said: “Our animals welfare is always of upmost importance to us. Truth be told they live better than we do most of the time.

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“I have always been animal mad and have been handling many types of animals since pretty much birth.

“Displaying animals and giving talks on these amazing creatures is something has been bred into me.

Exotic Animal Encounters - one of their babies

Exotic Animal Encounters - one of their babies - Credit: Archant

“Although I didn’t quite follow in my parents footsteps with the falconry displays I knew eventually educating and displaying animals would one day take hold.

“I love to see peoples faces, especially children’s, when they get to see an animal up close instead of in a zoo or on the TV.

“Matt’s main love are the reptiles, he has kept and studied reptiles for many years.”

The couple give enrichment talks to schools, hold displays and run corporate days, animal-themed team building, animal therapy and sensory sessions as well as having an animal petting zoo and phobia-busting sessions.

Among the creatures in their collection are skunks, mongoose, meerkat, parrots, ravens, fox, Burmese pythons and barn owl.

The couple are fully insured, CRB checked and hold a performing animals license as well as being registered with Defra for transporting live animals.

Their plan was refused by Fenland planners.

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