A major tragedy was averted at the Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, England, when a family car caught fire while it was inside the lion enclosure. According to BBC, the incident happened on Friday afternoon after the car overheated whilst inside the first big cat enclosure.
Longleat Safari Park officials were able to rescue the inhabitants of the car that had a woman and two children inside before the car was fully consumed by flames. According to Kevin Ashley, an employee of the Longleat Safari Park, all of the lions in the enclosure were cleared out after the mishap happened. He added that the Safari park has been closed after the incident. The fire was put out quickly and nobody was injured. The identity of the people who were inside the ill-fated car have not been revealed yet.
Meanwhile, people who were in the park took to social media where they posted pictures of the incident.
Slight drama at longleat! Car catches fire in the middle of the lion enclosure! Eeek! pic.twitter.com/IZ3wk4PLI7
— Anna Bing (@annabing) April 18, 2014
A car set on fire in the lion enclosure at longleat and it made my day pic.twitter.com/akCpnaZmwq
— George (@georgelear_) April 18, 2014
Meanwhile, a statement by the Longleat Safari Park ranger to ITV News reads thus:
“A female and two children were quickly picked up by the rangers who transferred them into their vehicle and the fire service was called. The car subsequently caught fire after the guests had been escorted out of their car. The lions were cleared from the enclosure and the safari park was closed. There were two vehicles. One pulled up alongside the car and transferred the people while the other car made sure the lions were kept back, but they weren’t very interested in what was going on anyway. Then they were put in their house.”
Longleat Safari Park is a major attraction in Wiltshire, and was first opened in 1966. At the time, it was the first of its kind anywhere in the world where, unlike zoos where animals are caged, animals inside the Longleat Safari park were allowed to roam freely. In fact, it was the human visitors to the park who were the ones moving around in cages (or cars, to be more precise), watching the animals in an almost natural environment. As of today, the Longleat Safari Park boasts of over 500 animals that roam across 9000 acres of the Wiltshire countryside. Apart from African lions, the park also is home to four Amur tigers, six cheetahs, a deer park, Asian elephants, and a host of other animals. The park has also had a decent safety record, and was the subject of BBC‘s famous “Animal Park” series, hosted by Kate Humble and Ben Fogle.
Meanwhile, the Longleat Safari Park fire incident has once again raised questions regarding the safety of people who visits zoos and safari parks. Last year The Inquisitr had reported about an elephant killing a keeper in Missouri. This incident happened only a week after a Tiger nearly ripped off a worker’s arm in Oklahoma. Are zoos and safari parks becoming increasingly unsafe for people?
[Image via BBC]