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Quick thinking saves the day after car breaks down in cheetah enclosure in safari park

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 16, 2014

Comments (17)

A DAY trip nearly turned into a disaster when a car overheated and broke down in a safari park’s cheetah enclosure.

Nadia Stone from Gloucester thought she was going to be left with the choice of being burnt or mauled during the visit to West Midlands Safari Park.

The 31-year-old from St Oswald’s said she had just passed the warning signs, which told visitors to close the sunroof, windows and locked the doors.

She said: “I suddenly thought I could smell burning. ‘Is your car overheating?’ I remember asking the driver.

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‘No,’ he said, then ‘although the engine does seem very hot’.

“Seconds later I could see smoke coming out from under the bonnet. I went straight into panic mode, shrieking ‘oh my God, turn the engine off, turn the engine off’. I had no idea what to do.”

She added: “Only a few weeks ago I saw a car pulled over on the motorway in flames and that picture was in my head. I just kept thinking that if the engine set on fire, what could we do? We weren’t supposed to get out of the car.

“The choice could have been between being burned or risk being mauled.”

The former Ribston Hall High School pupil said she and her friends saw a sign which recommended sounding the horn if in trouble.

She said: “This car has the most ineffectual horn, so we were sounding it again and again and could see a ranger parked down the road, but he didn’t move. We had no idea what to do.

“We later found out he had heard us but wasn’t allowed to move from his station. But we didn’t know that. Nobody told us.”

The quick-thinking communications officer and international development masters student rang the safari park asking for help.

Laughing at the situation with hindsight, she said: “By this point the car had stopped smoking so we weren’t panicking and 20 minutes later, the cavalry turned up, topped us up with water and sent us on our way.

“The whole way around the park, the car kept overheating.

“It was really busy and there were lots of queues so we had to drive past the lions, tawny and white, the rhinos, giraffes and elephants with one eye on them and the other on the temperature gauge, and turning the engine off every time it started to rise too high.

“It took forever to get out of the park.”

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  • raidermanuk  |  March 18 2014, 8:44AM

    Next time you go out in a car make sure there's someone with you who's a "quick-thinking communications officer and international development masters student". You know it makes sense!

  • Apothegm_  |  March 17 2014, 6:59PM

    At last! A picture of the Big Cat! (How come Frank didn't spot it, though?)

  • Kay_Powell  |  March 17 2014, 6:35PM

    Someone needs to tell Frank that there's a picture of a black panther on page 29 of today's Citizen.

    |   -17
  • Apothegm_  |  March 17 2014, 4:13PM

    This is probably one of the "really touching human interest pieces" in which she specialises... http://tinyurl.com/q4mj4uj

  • Rob_quedgeley  |  March 17 2014, 2:57PM

    Oh that's quite funny Kay Powell... Search for Nadia Stone on this site... 30+ results, many as a reporter... More as a "dial an opinion" person... She seems to have been 31 for a while now!!

    |   -19
  • the_mogul  |  March 17 2014, 1:32PM

    What exactly was done which was quick thinking? It appears it took quite a while to sound the horn which is the first thing I think anyone would do. If the car was on fire I think it unlikely a Cheetah would attack a human in this situation anyway, it would see a human as too big of a target and probably rather keep its distance unless provoked. Would be more of a worry in the Lion or Wild Dog enclosure but any approaching animal would likely be shot by a ranger before it could do any harm anyway.

  • Novanic  |  March 17 2014, 12:49PM

    It's obviously changed there as when we went last year, the cheetahs were inside an enclosure (i.e. that you looked into from the road). Either way, within each enclosure there are jeeps that are well equipped to deal with the daily occurrence of overheated engines and the like. From memory, you just need to sit tight and sound your horn....

  • The_Selector  |  March 17 2014, 12:02PM

    Yawn. Everything's a drama isn't it? Get a grip ***.

    |   -27
  • randylearner  |  March 17 2014, 10:19AM

    What? This is news? My car broke down on Dartmoor but never thought about contacting The Citizen.

  • GlosAnarchy  |  March 17 2014, 1:13AM

    Nadia Stone lives in Cheltenham, according to here twitter profile!

    |   -29