When people go on holiday with kids they often leave them in children’s clubs. They feel safe in the knowledge that the kids will receive the best care with sensible chaperones. The safe feeling should never be believed.
I was at Tenerife zoo doing a general check around before l started feeding. There was a children’s holiday club group having a look round with their minder. I had seen them having an ohh and ahh but largely ignored them.
Until l was walking back towards the big cats, one kid was holding onto the jaguar’s enclosure wire. The second was walking towards the wire and the third was being lifted over the barrier by the minder. The rest were asking to be next [over the barrier]
I froze for a fraction of a second in disbelief. Life went into slow motion. Luckily the jaguars were also disbelieving, but one was crouched and thinking about an attack, l saw his body position change in readiness, the two other were wheeling about ready to sprint, they had a child each if they wanted.
I bellowed to get those **** kids the hell out of there, NOW NOW they stared at me and backed off scared. The Jaguar’s settled back a fraction confused at the sudden clamour and my run and shouting.
The cretin in charge pulled the one child she was lifting over back and l grabbed the other one and hauled it out somehow. The third half climbed out when l hauled it the rest of the way.
l was incandescent with rage. I could not believe that anyone could be so stupid. The kids had almost been shredded and killed. The jaguars would have been destroyed; the zoo would have been in huge trouble.
The cretin said well they could not see clearly you have those stupid barriers there.
I think l went from incandescent to out of earth orbit. She got such a ripping off from me she just stood and stared in shock. She really had no idea until l let loose just how close things came to exploding into death. To her they were cute big cats.
I followed it up by booting her and the kids out of the zoo. Paco spoke to her bosses and she came back to apologise. Paco allowed her and future kids back but she had learnt her lesson.
I still shudder at how close it came to a real disaster. So if you go on holiday and use a holiday club, just be warned.