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I've built a thriving zoo from the PS26k 'wasted' from TV benefits show; Star of telly cash stunt says handout created a booming business.

Byline: LUKE TRAYNOR Chief Reporter luke.traynor@trinitymirror.com @LUKETRAYNORECHO

THIS is the mini ZOO which a dad-offour created at his home after pocketing a PS26,000 windfall from a TV channel in a documentary about benefits.

Scott Gavin took part in the social experiment conducted by Channel 5 who watched what families would do with a sudden influx of cash if their state handouts were handed to them in one lump sum.

Scott, 31, came in for criticism after he bought a PS950 bouncy slide, a Play-Station - and a raccoon!

But three months on since the Big Benefits Handout aired, Scott now says business is booming and life is sweet.

And the newly-made entrepreneur invited the ECHO inside his four-bedroom Kirkby home to show how he'd practically transformed his Colwall Road address into a mini-zoo with the money.

As part of his business Party Central Entertainments Ltd, Scott now owns a 12-feet Burmese python, five-foot long iguanas, horn snakes, giant tarantulas, giant millipedes and snails and a skunk.

They form part of his travelling animal show which he combines with his new line of work, hosting parties for childrens' birthdays, Holy Communions, Christenings and any other special occasions.

All the creatures are kept at the house, along with his wife Leanne, 26, and their four children aged ten, eight, seven and four.

Some of the reptiles are kept inside the property in large tanks, while other animals live in the outdoor aviary.

He is converting a 30-feet shed into another animal sanctuary, while plans are afoot to turn his loft into a further two bedrooms.

Scott, a qualified electrician, previously gave up work to give round-the-clock care to four-yearold son Robert who has behavioural problems.

And Scott insists his decision to spend his PS26,000 windfall, the annual amount he got in benefits, straight away has paid dividends.

He said: "Out of the three families on the show, we went for it straight away, and knew what we were going to do. The business is flying now - I've got nine members of staff.

"I've even got people dumping animals on my doorstep now.

"Once I went out onto the porch and felt something hit my leg - it was a boa constrictor.

"Two weeks ago I found two lizards outside my door."

"The show put me in a position to change my life completely.

"I couldn't have hoped for it to be any better. I wake up every day happy.

"If I want to go on holiday or buy my wife a new pair of shoes, I can do.'' For the Big Benefits Handout, the Gavins and other families sat down with a financial adviser to plan their long-term spending.

A team of experts also monitored their bank accounts to ensure they were not too reckless with the money.

Gavin notably bought a raccoon with his PS26,000 which raised eyebrows among many viewers, but which now looks to have been a savvy move.

CAPTION(S):

| ||ANIMAL MAGIC: Scott Gavin and wife Leanne with the mini 'zoo' that has been turned into a local business ANDREW TEEBAY

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 22, 2016
Words:517
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