West Midlands Safari Park: rhino smashes into dads car
Single dad Jamie, an adult support worker from Birmingham, said: “It was absolutely terrifying. It happened so quickly and I didn’t know what to do. I was just in shock.”
A dad and son have told how their car was smashed when it was charged by a mother rhino at West Midlands Safari Park.
Jamie Wood, 35, took son Jackson, five, on a day trip to the attraction where visitors drive their car through the free-roaming animal pens.
But he was shocked when two fighting rhinos stopped - and one turned on the dad’s Skoda Fabia.
The half tonne mother charged at the family’s vehicle from 200ft, smashing its horn and body into the side of the bonnet.
Terrified Jamie said the horn missed his drivers door by a matter of centimetres, but the smash left him with a £1,500 bill to repair the car - which he’d borrowed for the day.
He said he thinks the mother rhino charged because its baby had wandered off, placing the car between the parent and child animals.
What did Jamie say in his own words?
Single dad Jamie, an adult support worker from Birmingham, said: "“It was absolutely terrifying.
“It happened so quickly and I didn’t know what to do.
“I was just in shock.
“I kept telling Jackson it would avoid us and then I heard myself swear when I realised it was going to hit us.
“If i’d have been a bit further forward that massive horn would have gone right through me.
“I’d imagine she was around four or five times the weight of the car.
“It was very traumatic and Jackson still has nightmares about it.
“This could happen again and could easily be fatal.”
What happened before the rhino hit the car?
The incident happened when Jamie borrowed the car from mum Alison Wood, 65, to go to the park on October 10.
They were stationary and working out how to drive to see the giraffes when they spotted two adult rhinos headbutting each other.
One of the wardens spun the wheels on a Land Rover to prompt the pair to separate, but this scared a baby rhino who ran away, Jamie said.
The mother rhino broke off her squabble to follow the youngster - but Jamie’s car was inadvertently between the pair.
Jamie braced as the animal charged, crumpling the driver’s side of the bonnet.
Staff gave him cable ties to reattach the bonnet so he could get home, he said.
Jamie said he has complained to the park, but not had a reply.
Adding: “I was expecting at least a refund on my tickets or a free annual pass.
“The staff just said: ‘well you know what a protective mother is like.’
"It’s great that they are free-roaming but maybe they should segregate mum and baby pairs so things like this don’t happen.
“I know they say you’re liable for damage to your car, but you expect a little scratch.
"This is very different."
What have West Midlands Safari Park said about the incident?
A spokesperson for West Midland Safari & Leisure Park said: "As part of the safari drive through experience, many of our animals are able to roam freely between vehicles.
"This includes our herd of white rhino. Keepers in patrol vehicles are always in close attendance, to monitor all animal and vehicle movements during park opening hours for the safety of our guests.
"On the afternoon of 10 October, one of our female rhinos, whilst following her 3-month-old calf, collided with a vehicle within the African reserve.
"During the incident, our team of trained keepers in patrol vehicles attempted to guide the mother and baby rhino away from the guest’s vehicle, but unfortunately were unable to prevent the rhino from coming into contact with the vehicle.
"Trained keepers escorted the guests involved in the incident safely out of the reserves and no injuries were reported to us at the scene."
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. BirminghamWorld is Birmingham’s latest news website, championing everything that is great about our city - reporting on news, lifestyle and sport. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.