matt damon we bought a zooOnce it dawns on you that the very notion of a zoo is entirely in opposition to what nature is really all about, that’s when you experience a mind shift. What might have once seemed like a great way to spend an afternoon takes on a different edge when you realize that you’re admiring wild creatures through bars. Many green-minded individuals go as far as to boycott zoos, and yet imagine being in the unique position of transplanting your family smack dab in the middle of one.

That’s what happened to Benjamin Mee and his family when they decided in 2006 to move into a 12 bedroom room house with 30 acres of gardens – a property which also happened to have 220 exotic animals living on it. At the time, the Devon, England Dartmoor Wildlife Park was rather run-down and while Mee, his young children and wife (suffering from a brain tumor) never intended to own a zoo, they all fell in love with the property and decided to take on the adventure. Sadly, Mee’s wife succumbed to her illness within just a few months time but he says that being in the midst of such a unique environment reminded him that he was a part of something bigger, a fact which helped him to better cope with her passing.

Expect to see Mee’s wild story come to life on the silver screen now that director Cameron Crowe – who intends to release his film version on December 23, 2011 – is chatting with Matt Damon about portraying the unlikely zoo owner. While Ben Stiller was also rumored to be considering the role, several sources are pointing toward Damon as being the likely choice (in light of his impressive ability to pull off various unique regional accents).

Benjamin Mee offers some background information on how he came about buying a zoo in the video clip below and if you’re really enchanted by his story, you can also purchase his memoir of the experience online.

Via Dartmoor Zoological Park