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When George Mottershead, an ex-serviceman still struggling to come to terms with the effects of the Great War, finds a monkey locked up in a quarantine cage, it sparks an idea that becomes a life-long mission. He dreams of building Britain's first zoo without bars. Unable to see a creature in distress, he soon starts buying up unwanted animals. But George lives with his parents Lucy and Albert Mottershead, his loyal wife Lizzie and his daughters Mew and June. The family home is bursting at the seams. Something has to change... George soon spies a large rambling estate in the countryside. In a poor state of repair, the house and land are up for auction. It's the perfect spot for his zoo. But how to raise the funds?

As the family nurses Eve, the black bear, back to health, a community meeting is organized in an effort to stop the zoo. George is devastated when a newspaper article portrays him as misguided and incapable, but Billy brings a delightful surprise to Upton that may finally win over the hearts of the locals: a dozen penguins.


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