Meet Norfolk's Tiger King: Wildlife expert caring for big cats and cobras

Kavin Murphy (inset) is no stranger to looking after big cats

Kevin Murphy (inset) is no stranger to looking after big cats - Credit: Kevin Murphy

Cat-sitting a cougar is unusual for most people - but that's just another day in the life of Kevin Murphy.

The 42-year-old wildlife expert deals with escaped 20ft boa constrictors during the day, then comes home to find a puma on the sofa. 

Mr Murphy, who runs Norfolk Wildlife Rescue from his home in Norwich, often gets called upon to help people with their exotic pets. 

And recently he has to bring his work home. 

Kevin Murphy, Norfolk Coordinator for British Divers Marine Life Rescue and founder of Norfolk Wildl

Kevin Murphy, who runs Norfolk Wildlife Rescue - Credit: submitted

The independent wildlife advisor said he has been interested in working with animals since he was child.


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Mr Murphy took a trip down memory lane to recall his strangest encounters. 

1. Boa constrictor 

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Being called to recover a 20ft snake which can "squeeze you to death and swallow you whole" sounds terrifying to most people. 

But that was exactly what Mr Murphy was told to look out for when he was called to a house in Loddon to track down an escaped boa constrictor two years ago.

BOA CONSTRICTOR boa constrictor, ADULT

BOA CONSTRICTOR boa constrictor, ADULT - Credit: slowmotiongli/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Upon locating the reptile he was satisfied the boa constrictor had the appropriate veterinary certificate and registration. 

2. Wolfdog 

Bred in Hungary, this fourth generation animal was owned by a woman who lived in Mattishall. 

"This was actually a favourite of mine," Mr Murphy said. 

Sam Bryce with her Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, Loki.
Loki has been trained to search for lost dogs
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Kevin Murphy looked after a wolfdog near Norwich until very recently when it was moved to another owner - Credit: Archant

"It did not need a licence or anything in particular. I actually only just finished looking after it because the owner needed someone else to look it." 

3. Big cat 

Seeing a puma lying on the sofa is not something you see every day.

"I have lived in the city for 10 years and visited places around Norfolk I did not even know were here through the job," Mr Murphy said. 

Kevin Murphy received a call to look after a big cat. His response was "size is not an issue" on the phone

Kevin Murphy received a call to look after a big cat. His response was "size is not an issue" on the phone - Credit: Kevin Murphy

"That was the case when I received a call to pet-sit this puma, which is also known as a cougar or mountain lion."

When the enquiry first came in this summer, the caller simply said he had a big cat, to which Mr Murphy replied size was not an issue.

Big cats can be owned in the UK with the appropriate license. 

4. King cobra 

A venomous snake let loose in a pet shop could have spelled disaster. 

Fortunately, Mr Murphy was on hand to locate a snake which had escaped from its tank after it had been missing for two weeks. 

The six-year-old king cobra is 9.5ft long that will grow to 18ft long. Picture: Jeremy Long.

A king cobra was on the loose in a Norwich pet shop before Mr Murphy's intervention - Credit: Jeremy Long \ JCL Photography

"I am not sure why they didn't just shut the shop." Mr Murphy said.

"Members of the public could have walked right past it." 

5. Eagle owl 

Another escapee Mr Murphy was called to was an eagle owl which had fled from a zoo in 2007. 

"These things can happen so I am not going to criticise anyone for it," Mr Murphy said. 

"I got this one back but there have been one or two that have got away." 

Kevin Murphy, who runs the 24 hour service Norfolk Wildlife Rescue, looked after Willow until she wa

Kevin Murphy, who runs the 24 hour service Norfolk Wildlife Rescue, looked after Willow until she was able to be returned to her owner - Credit: Kevin Murphy

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