Whilst doing a little research for a magazine article that I hope will be out at some point in the near future I came across an interesting story in an old newspaper that I thought id share with you guys. It seems that back on the 11 January 1939 a keeper at Primley Zoo (now Paignton Zoo) was badly mauled by one of a pair of resident leopards.
67 year old Jack Hawkins a keeper at the zoo didn’t usually care for the duo of cats but due to their usual keeper being away he had stepped in to help. But it seems he stepped in just a little to far. Upon entering the enclosure he was rushed by the male and was left with severe lacerations to the face, scalp, and head and in the melee the feline aggressor managed to escape its confines. But Jack, gravely wounded as he was still managed to bravely shut the enclosure stopping the second cat from also escaping before he collapsed. Luckily for Jack his fellow workers found him and he was rushed off to hospital in critical condition.
The leopard however made good his bid for freedom. He managed to evade a police cordon that had been hastily set up around the zoo. And for the next couple of evenings the cat managed avoid any contact with the scores of shotgun wielding police and local farmers, but his freedom was to come at a price. For it wasn’t long before the majestic animal was in the sights of Major S. A. Yorke who along with some territorial soldiers had been helping the police with their hunt. That morning the cat had been spotted on heath land close to the zoo and it had been tracked to a clump of bushes. The Major and the soldiers had taken up positions in tree and a policeman and zoo keeper had been employed as beaters to flush the unfortunate animal into the open, the plan, sadly for the cat, succeeded and not only did the leopard lose his freedom but also his life.