When Julie-Ann Taylor’s 9-year-old son came running into the kitchen yelling about a cheetah in the garden, she thought his imagination was getting the best of him. How many cheetahs roam the plains of England, after all?
Then she looked out the window and saw the 66 pound cat taking chunks out of his bicycle in their driveway.
The boy, Toby, was just 15 feet away from the cat when he spotted it, dropped his bike and ran in the house. By the time he reached the door, the cat was chewing the bike’s seat and ripping at the tires with its claws.
Turns out, the six-foot long cheetah had escaped from a nearby animal sanctuary.
The woman called authorities, and zoo keepers and police arrived, coralling the cat in the family’s farmhouse stable as they harnessed the cheetah, named Akea.
Toby has since had nightmares over the incident, not surprisingly. Although cheetahs tame quite well for a large cat and rarely attack humans, a cat of Akea’s size could clearly be dangerous to a 9-year-old.
Cheetahs, which are considered vulnerable in the wild, are the world’s fastest land animal. They hunt fast prey such as impala in their native Africa, chasing them down with short bursts of speed up to 70 miles per hour.
- Staff Writer Bryan Dean