The new Cameron Crowe movie starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson is based on a true story about a real family that bought a real zoo. Damon’s character is based on author Benjamin Mee (shown here with Damon), who wrote We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals that Changed Their Lives Forever.
The real-life story is a little different from the one in the movie. Both Damon’s character and the real-life Mee are widowers with young children. But the real Mee bought the zoo with his mother, brother, and sister before his wife died. The movie zoo is in the US. The Dartmoor Zoological Park is located in southwest England. Its 33 acres of woodland include tigers, lions, jaguar, lynx and cheetah, bears, wolves, tapir, capybara, racoons, meerkats, monkeys, deer, owls, ostrich, lechwe, bugs, reptiles and much, much more. Mee’s charming description of his family’s decision to buy the zoo and their early days is on their website. But it doesn’t say anything about a zookeeper on staff who looks like Scarlett Johansson.