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Last Updated: Thursday October 30 2008 15:32 GMT

Boy finds cheetah in back garden

Toby with his chewed-up cycle seat (Pic: Masons)

A nine-year-old boy in Cambridgeshire got a huge shock when he came face-to-face with a cheetah in his back garden.

Toby was playing with his bike when he spotted the big cat. He ran indoors as the animal pounced on his bike and started tearing up the seat.

The cheetah had escaped from a nearby zoo, but its keepers soon arrived with the police to capture it.

They said the creature had escaped because of a broken electric fence, but wouldn't have harmed Toby.

Cheetahs are the fastest animals on land, and can reach speeds of over 60 miles per hour.

A cheetah in Nairobi's National Park (Photo by: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A cheetah
The three-year-old creature which Toby found in his garden had escaped from Hamerton Zoo.

Zoo director Andrew Swales said: "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.

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

Investigation

Mr Swales said the broken electric fence had been repaired.

The local council is carrying out an investigation into the cheetah's escape.