Boy, 9, came face-to-face with escaped cheetah from zoo where tiger killed keeper

The Hamerton Zoo Park – where a keeper was killed by a tiger in a ‘freak accident’ – hit the headlines nearly a decade ago after a cheetah escaped from its enclosure.
Toby Taylor, then nine, came face-to-face with a cheetah in his back garden (Picture: Masons)

Toby Taylor, then nine, encountered the escaped animal in his back garden.

Toby, who lived with his family near Hamerton Zoo at the time, immediately ran indoors when he saw the animal.

The three-year-old cheetah, thought to have escaped through a faulty electric fence, was collected by its keepers, accompanied by the police a short time later.

Four years ago, keeper Sarah McClay died after being mauled by a Sumatran tiger at South Lakes Safari Zoo in Cumbria.

The zoo was fined £255,000 at Preston Crown Court in June last year following the 24-year-old employee’s death in May 2013.

It received an additional £42,500 fine after it admitted other health and safety breaches when a zookeeper fell from a ladder while preparing to feed big cats in July 2014.

Rosa King, 33, was killed at Hamerton Zoo yesterday

Last October ZSL London Zoo was put on lockdown after Kumbuka the silverback gorilla managed to exit his enclosure through two security doors that had been left unlocked by a keeper.

Armed police were called to the central London attraction and visitors were evacuated when the alarm was raised following the ape’s bid for freedom shortly after 5pm on October 13.

It follows the death of endangered gorilla Harambe, who was widely mourned after he was shot when a three-year-old boy fell into his Cincinnati Zoo enclosure in May 2016.

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