Couple follow animal instincts to tie the knot at Doncaster’s wildlife park

Abbie Leigh Bowler who married David Merrett at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
Abbie Leigh Bowler who married David Merrett at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

An animal mad couple were surrounded by lions and tigers as they said ‘I zoo’ at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

Computer programmer Abbie Bowler, aged 25, and electrician David Merrett, 30, became the first couple to get hitched at the popular tourist attraction after it was granted a licence.

The couple, who enjoyed a string of dates at the venue before becoming annual members, wanted a wedding with a difference.

Abbie said: “We are not religious and wanted somewhere different. We have been to the wildlife park loads of times and hold yearly passes so I called up, not knowing the marriage licence was just about to be granted.

“Some people thought we were crazy but afterwards all our guests said it was the best wedding they had ever been to.

“It was absolutely amazing – after the wedding we got to feed the lions. Dave loved it! I was a bit worried because one of the lionesses seemed to take an interest in my dress so I had to stand back a bit.

“My favourite thing was feeding the giraffes.

“All the guests just loved it, especially the children. During the night do we could hear the lions roaring, it was amazing.

“We couldn’t recommend it enough as a wedding venue. It is truly magical.”

Abbie, from Tuxford, and David, of Harworth, who have been together seven years, enjoyed a honeymoon after the wedding to Cornwall, where they continued the animal theme and fed penguins in Newquay.

Abbie said: “We both love animals and going to zoos, and we would have loved to go on safari for our honeymoon, but I’m terrified of flying and Dave is scared of boats.”

Park director Cheryl Williams said: “We are delighted to get the licence and know the park will provide a memorable venue.

“The wedding ceremony can be held at our new Outlook conference centre and the animals make a fantastic backdrop to a special day.

“I’m sure the lions and tigers will have something to say at the weddings and give all newlyweds a roar of approval.”