THE owners of Peckforton Castle want a zoo licence to expand their spectacular collection of birds of prey.

Although their intention is to invest in new birds for their falconry, they might introduce other animals to the site in the future.

The falconry opened only three months ago and has 20 different birds to show off to their guests.

The birds include hawks, owls, falcons and their star attraction is a three year old golden eagle called Elfie.

Peckforton Castle spokesman Larry Redmond said: “The licence is a necessary legal requirement if we are to have the birds here and if we want to expand the collection.

“We are not ruling out any other animals at the castle but that is not something we are thinking of in the near future.

“Our golden eagle is our star attraction in the falconry. It is special because the story goes that the Tollemache family, who built the castle, kept golden eagles at the castle in the 1850s.”

The birds are kept in a number of aviaries within the walls of the castle and the gardens around the castle are used for falconry demonstrations at corporate events, weddings and other function.

James Hill, falconer at Peckforton Castle, said: “What I would personally like to do is to increase the number of different species of birds we have here. At the moment we are looking to invest in a red kite.

“Peckforton Castle is the perfect place to see these birds because there is the space to see them in flight and there is the security.

“The birds here are rare and expensive and are highly desired by collectors so keeping the birds safe is very important.”