Benjamin and his family moved from France and bought a big house to care for his mum. Sadly, she passed away not long after and closely later he lost his wife suddenly at just 40 yrs old from a brain tumour. This left Benjamin lost and devastated with 2 children and a large mortgage.
The house came with land and some animals, so Benjamin decided to get more and turn it into a zoo. He wrote a book about his story but continued to struggle financially as he didn’t understand just how expensive animals would cost to keep and staff…. the staff were a total essential, after first hand experience of an escaped jaguar just 4 days after the zoo opened!
One day when things were looking quite desperate with just 2 months mortgage payments left in the bank, he received a phone call from Hollywood. At first, he thought it was a joke but after realising it wasn’t, he was asked ‘who would you like to play you in your film!’ What a question. It turned out to be Matt Damon, and Scarlett Johansson played his wife.
The reason Ben and his story struck a chord with mne is not just because I could relate to the pressure of no work whilst suffering from bereavement, but I totally admired how even in this situation he was able to think so differently and act so brave. It's paid off for Benjamin and his children as they all got to keep thier home and they have gained a zoo plus an amazing team of zoo keepers. The film was a success and the income helps to fund the zoo, along with other community and team building events Benjamin hosts.