When you take a trip to the zoo you expect to get up close and personal with wild animals. From the safety of your own car, or through the ironclad enclosure walls, you have access to some of the world’s most exotic creatures, which is what makes the experience so magical.
Of course, animals can be unpredictable. Their natural instincts and inability to communicate with humans mean that you can never be too sure exactly what they’ll do next. This was true for visitors at West Midlands Safari Park, where the lions went on the rampage in their enclosure.
The safari park, which opened in 1973, allows patrons to drive their vehicles around the grounds, taking their own cars into areas where lions, zebras and giraffes roam free. Of course, in the past, this has presented problems with overzealous animals getting a little too familiar with the motorized contraptions passing through their ‘home’, but the latest incident at the park is a frightening reminder of just how free-spirited animals can be.
As the lions became increasingly unsettled, rangers closed the area down, trapping vehicles that were already inside within the enclosure. For 50 minutes they worked to try and calm the pride down, but these attempts were relatively futile according to eyewitnesses.
In one particularly frightening moment, the pride bolted for a female with one lion launching itself onto the roof of a car carrying two children.
The shocking moment was caught on camera, and it makes for alarming viewing…
“It was the last thing you’d expect to happen on a causal day out. We could see as we got into the enclosure that the lions were making a lot of noise, and that a few of them were wrestling with one another,” explained Jazzy Reynolds, who was driving the vehicle at the time.
“They were dashing around after one another – I think there was a female that they were trying to chase. The employees weren’t able to open the gates to let us out because of the disturbance. Then, out of nowhere, a load of them darted towards my car and started jumping all over it. It was a real shock, but I knew that I couldn’t scream because it would upset the children.”
“I think they were just running from one place to the other, and my car happened to be an obstacle in their way, so they hurtled over it. One of them went up on the bonnet, and another one managed to jump on the roof. They really got up close and personal. Eventually the gates opened so that we could get out, and we just carried on our day as normal.”
“The children were talking about it as we drove them back home, they found it absolutely hilarious and were really happy that they got to experience that. I think that the staff were amazing, I have to commend them for what they did. Their presence made us feel safe as it happened.”
“The only negative is the paw print dent on my car, but it looks really funny and will hopefully be easy to fix. I’m due to take the car in for a service later this week, so they’re going to think I’m bonkers when I try to explain that to them.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for West Midlands Safari Park gave further details on the incident:
“The male lions have been in the process of being mixed with the females for a few months now. This has been going well and there was no reason to believe that there would be any issues yesterday as a result of mixing. As with all wild animals, normally harmonious groups can on occasion become particularly active.”
“This is constantly monitored closely by trained staff who are always in the enclosure when guests are too and will intervene if necessary. There was an experienced member of staff within the enclosure and at no time were guests in any danger. The safety and wellbeing of our guests is paramount.”
Luckily nobody was harmed in the incident, except for Ms. Reynold’s car. Thankfully that can be fixed!