You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

'Grab your kids and run': Families hide at Kent safari park after cheetah escapes enclosure

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/03/2017 Rashid Razaq, Barney Davis

© Provided by Independent Print Limited Parents revealed today how they were told to “grab your kids and run” after a cheetah escaped from its enclosure at a safari park.

The animal was on the loose for nearly half an hour at the Port Lympne Reserve in Kent on Sunday afternoon after climbing out during feeding time.

Alice Stittle, from London, was visiting the park near Hythe with her husband James and their friends Victoria and Mariano Quijada and their two young children Ruby and Diego.

Mrs Stittle, editor of Things & Ink magazine, said visitors were told to hide in a gift shop and the lavatories until the cheetah was captured.

She said: “We were about to go home and were walking back to the entrance when one of the zookeepers ran over in a panic. He told us, ‘Grab your kids and run. A cheetah’s escaped and it’s on the loose.’

“There was no room at the gift shop, so we had to hide in the ladies’ toilets. It seemed haphazard. The kids thought it was amazing and kept trying to poke their heads out to see.

cheetahescape.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited cheetahescape.jpg

“After about 15 minutes, Mariano went to ask the zookeepers if we could leave and he was told we could walk to our car very quickly as the cheetah was on the other side of the park, but before we got out the cheetah was apparently tempted back into his enclosure with a chicken.”

Maggie Jones 38, from Maidstone, who was at the safari park with husband Gary, 39, and their children Danielle, 11, and Harry, 13, said: “It was pretty scary. Word quickly spread that a big cat was on the loose and parents were shooing their children into the shops and even into the toilets.

“Everyone was looking round nervously in case it was about to jump out on us. They reassured us it was harmless, but none of the mums and dads were taking any chances. Apparently, it got out of its enclosure and was on the loose where they take safari buses full of people.”

A spokesman for Port Lympne said a “full escape procedure” had been launched at 4.30pm.

In a statement, animal director Adrian Harland said there had been “no real threat” to guests and said: “He only climbed out to get back with his mother after having been separated to stop him eating all her dinner. The cheetah was calm and pacing the enclosure fence, looking to get back in.

“Some food was thrown into the enclosure and the cheetah walked back in to get it. No vet intervention was needed.

“We have secured the enclosure’s perimeter fencing to ensure that the cheetah cannot climb out again.”

© Provided by Independent Print Limited

More from Evening Standard

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon