AN investigation has been launched after a nine-year-old found an escaped cheetah in his back garden. On Tuesday the Hunts Post was the first newspaper to break the story that a cheetah had escaped from Hamerton Zoo. The animal had got out through a faulty elec

Akea back in the Zoo

AN investigation has been launched after a nine-year-old found an escaped cheetah in his back garden.

On Tuesday the Hunts Post was the first newspaper to break the story that a cheetah had escaped from Hamerton Zoo.

The animal had got out through a faulty electric fence and made his way across a field to the nearby home of the Taylor family at Rookery Farm.

Nine-year-old Toby Taylor, who was playing on his bicycle on Friday (October 24) afternoon spotted the animal and fled inside his house.

Toby and his mother Jules, watched from the kitchen window as the animal ripped the seat and tyres of the bicycle to shreds.

Speaking to The Hunts Post, Toby said: "I was really scared and went hot all over and started shaking."

Mrs Taylor said: "I didn't believe Toby when he came running inside the house shouting 'mummy there's a cheetah in the garden' - I thought he was joking.

"But he looked petrified and when I looked outside the kitchen window and saw the cheetah I couldn't believe my eyes."

The scared family sheltered inside the house until keepers from the zoo arrived to take the three-year-old male cheetah, known as Akea back to the zoo.

When the keepers tried to put a harness on Akea he started biting them and had to be locked in the family's stables until a crate arrived to take transport him back to the zoo.

Andrew Swales from Hamerton Zoo described Akea as "completely tame" and 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." He added that Akea must have mistaken Toby's bicycle for one of his own toys.

The zoo has apologised to the Taylor family for what happened and offered to pay the repair bill for Toby's bike.

Officers at Huntingdonshire District Council have now launched an investigation into how Akea escaped.

A council spokesman said: "The zoo reported the escape to use, in accordance with procedures. We are aware that a faulty electric fencing unit has been replaced. We are now investigating the incident."

Since the story broke on the Hunts Post website www.huntspost.co.uk the story has been covered by national and international media, even making it to China.

Speaking to The Hunts Post on Wednesday (October 29), Mrs Taylor said: "I can't believe the number of phone calls I've had from the press - I can't believe all the press coverage, it's incredible. I just hope we do not get the zoo in trouble as we like the zoo and enjoy going there.