Lion keeper Reece Oliver takes ITV Central on tour of animal enclosure in his back garden

ITV News Central Correspondent Rajiv Popat reports on the animal enclosure in Strelley

A man from Nottingham who keeps lions in his back garden has now had an extended enclosure built.

Reece Oliver, who is a licensed zoo keeper, rescued a Canadian puma as a cub from the illegal pet trade in Lincolnshire and rescued the lions from a circus in Eastern Europe.

In 2019, he applied for planning permission to extend the enclosure that houses the animals - and despite 14 objections the lions luxury pad is now complete.

Rocky and Rora have lived in a back garden at Strelley in Nottinghamshire since they were cubs, now they are are almost three years old.

A lion eating meat in the animal enclosure in Reece Oliver's back garden Credit: ITV Central

Their new enclosure is seven times bigger than their old home.

Mr Oliver told ITV Central: "It's over an acre that way (length) and over an acre the other way in terms of square footage, so it's a great size".

He adds: "Definitely privately it's one of the biggest and I would say in honesty that it's probably up there with the bigger zoos so it's a great enclosure."

"They have four different separate dens within it, an indoor, two outdoor and a big main den."

Reece Oliver describes how he has one of the biggest animal enclosures

Many people suggest Mr Oliver's animals belong in the wild.

However he said we don't live well enough as human beings for that to always be possible.

He also wants to remind people that he has rescued these animals who can not be released into the wild because they were born in captivity and hand-reared.

In the past, locals have been concerned about the lions next door.

One resident told ITV Central one of her worries is the safety and security of the enclosure.

"What's the difference between a zoo keeping a lion and a man that has a lot of land and the finances to do it", a local told ITV Central

Another said they are quite "extreme" to keep as pets, but doesn't see the issue if Mr Oliver has the "animals are well looked after, if they are safe and he keeps other people safe as well".

Mr Oliver insists the enclosure is very secure and hopes to welcome visitors, including school groups, to see the animals in the future as well as raise money for conservation projects around the world.

Looking after animals like big cats is controlled by the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act and regulations were introduced as fears for public safety grew.

But unlike people back then, Mr Oliver is fully licensed to keep wild animals as long as the council is happy.