Page last updated at 21:37 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Boy finds cheetah in back garden

A nine-year-old boy had a fright when he found an escaped cheetah in his back garden, according to a zoo.

Toby Taylor, who lives with his family near to Hamerton Zoo in Hamerton, Cambridgeshire, ran indoors when he saw the animal on Friday afternoon.

His mother, Jules, dialled 999 and the three-year-old hand-reared cheetah was captured by its keepers, assisted by police, soon after.

The cheetah is thought to have escaped through a faulty electric fence.

Andrew Swales, the zoo's director, said the animal would not have attacked Toby.

"He wouldn't pose any danger and his reaction to strangers would be the same as a pet dog - either a friendly greeting or a guarded retreat," he said.

"I do not know of any cases of a cheetah attacking a human."

Mr Swales said Toby had quickly gone back into his house after spotting the cheetah.

He said: "He was told off by his mother for slamming the door but then he explained why."

Mr Swales said the electric fence believed to have led to the escape had been replaced.

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