A UK zoo is hoping a Hollywood film can change its fortunes. Hayley Platt reports.
REPORTER: When Benjamin Mee bought a rundown zoo in the English countryside in 2006 he knew it was a gamble. But he didn't know a global financial crisis was on the way. He didn't expect a loan he was given to carry out repairs to be recalled. And he didn't predict his wife would die of a brain tumor. With 200 animals to feed and 60,000 visitors to attract every year he wrote a book about his struggles - which is now a Hollywood film.
BENJAMIN MEE, ZOO KEEPER, JOURNALIST, AND AUTHOR OF 'WE BOUGHT A ZOO': "We didn't have money but I thought I might be able to at least get some interest by writing, so I wrote an article and I wrote a book and I thought that might lead to a newspaper column if I was really lucky. I had no idea that it would be made into a Hollywood film and unleash this huge global spotlight onto the place but that is what it needed."
REPORTER: Hollywood director Cameron Crowe cast Matt Damon in the lead. Ben received £30,000 for the rights and another £250,000 when the movie went into production. The film premiered in New York in December and recently opened in London . If it's successful he could receive more money and more valuable publicity. His children certainly hope he can succeed and his animals lives depend on it.
ELLA MEE, AGED 8, BENJAMIN'S DAUGHTER: "Normal people think I'm going to watch some television or play on DS or something but we wake up and think that's go feed the animals and let's go see the goats."
MILO MEE, AGED 10, BENJAMIN'S SON: "I always think I'm very lucky to be living in a place like this."
REPORTER: Ben is now a minor celebrity but he still needs a £1,000 a day to keep the zoo afloat.
BENJAMIN MEE: "Earlier this month after we've paid the mortgage there was literally £45 in the company account, on a £750,000 turnover you're down to that and there's no credit so we couldn't buy milk in the restaurant and you actually hope that people wouldn't order too much tea."
REPORTER: Ben will receive 5 percent of the film's net profit. But exactly how much that will be depends how many people go to see the film. Hayley Platt, Reuters.
I visited the Dartmoor Zoo with my daughter in the summer of 2008 and took this photo of a tiger. Who would have thought they'd make a Hollywood movie about it!