This article was published on April 22, 2016 and information contained within may be out of date.
The director of a wildlife park has defended his Bengal tigers following claims they may escape and kill people.
Steve Nichols says his Bengal Tigers are under lock and key and extra safety precautions are carried out to prevent the tigers from escaping.
He says it is as impossible as it can be for them to break free.
I do understand people’s concerns and I wish they would come to me and I could show them around the tiger cages and they can see for themselves how secured they are.Steve Nichols, Lincolnshire Wildlife Park
He is assessed on a regular basis by health and safety representatives and works alongside zoos across the country.
Mr Nichols spoke out following an objection for a new tiger enclosure from a neighbour who fears the tigers will break out and attack people.
He said: “I do understand people’s concerns and I wish they would come to me and I could show them around the tiger cages and they can see for themselves how secured they are.”
The four Bengal Tigers, one mother and three cubs are in a huge nursery enclosure with five foot fencing – the required height needed for tiger enclosures.
The metal wire fencing is connected to 10,000 volts of electric cables. “The tigers know they will get a shock if they go near the fencing, so won’t go near it,” he said.
“If I was not sure they were secure then I would not have my five-year-old granddaughter living on the premises. My whole family live here.
“We also have a firearms licence so if a tiger escaped then we would have to shoot it.
“The tigers are like my family so there is no way I would let one of them escape and come to harm.”
The tigers have been residents at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park in Friskney for about 18 months and Mr Nichols says they have never broken out before.
He added: “Everywhere is padlocked and there is a strict procedure we follow. I spend six hours with the tigers a day. At lock-up, I go through all of the procedures to ensure they are secured. I carry out checks every morning and every night. I also check the cameras every night to ensure all is OK before going to sleep.”
Mr Nichols’ house looks out into the tigers’ den so he keeps a close eye on them all the time. They follow him everywhere he goes when he is in the cage and treat him like one of their own.
But neighbour Clive Tonge of Claxy Bank in Friskney claimed the perimeter fence proposed at the zoo is not high enough – leaving him and his family in danger.
In his objection to the scheme, Mr Tonge said: “In the event of an escape, at least with a decent fence the owners may stand a chance to recapture them before they attack my animals or my family.
“I also believe the zoo is obtaining a puma which could also jump over the fence.
“All other zoos/safari park I have visited have a 12-14ft perimeter fence with angled in brackets at the top to prevent escape.”