Toddler's near miss after escaping through fence at Howletts Wild Animal Park
Cody Parish safe after
his Howletts lucky escape cuddled by Mum Kayleigh and brother
A mum is urging families to be extra vigilant after her
two-year-old son had a lucky escape at a Kent wildlife park.
Kaileigh Parrish was terrified when little Cody managed to
squeeze through a hedge by a fence in the family picnic area at
Howletts near Canterbury - and ended up in the middle of a
tarpaulin that was covering water by a sign warning reading ‘Danger
- Deep Water’.
Ms Parrish, 26, from Manston, believes stricter safety measures
need to be in place - but Howletts stress that safety is paramount
for them and this is the only incident of its type in their
Ms Parrish, of Musgrave Close, was with friends and other
children when her eldest son, six-year-old Jayden, raised the
She said: “Jayden came running up to me and said Cody has got
through the gate.
“I ran over and saw a sign on the gate that said
Danger - Deep Water and I climbed over the gate, shouting his
“I heard him scream and ran around a big bush to find him out
standing on a cover in the middle of a big pool, sinking in water
which had come up to his knees.
“I fell onto my knees at the edge of the water and coaxed him
over, saying ‘Walk to mummy’. He made it over and collapsed into my
arms, shaking and crying.
“His bottom half was soaking wet so I stripped off his trousers,
took off my jumper and wrapped it around him.
“I picked him up and took him to where the gate and mesh fence
were and there was a gap between the fence and hedge that he was
able to get back through while I climbed over the gate.”
She reported what had happened to a staff member at the park’s
restaurant and returned home to get Cody warm and dry.
The following day she emailed the wildlife park to express her
concerns about safety at the picnic site but she is unhappy with
the response to her mail, which told her that the area had been
inspected and there was no problem with the measures already in
She said: “If they think it is OK as it is and the area has been
left the same way then I’m worried it could happen again and
another child might not be so lucky.
“I’m so glad Jayden was there and was able to warn me.
“Cody has only been swimming a couple of times and if he had
fallen over on the way back, he might have fallen in completely and
the water was absolutely freezing.
"I fell onto my knees at the edge of the water and coaxed him over, saying ‘Walk to mummy’. He made it over and collapsed into my arms, shaking and crying" – mum Kaileigh Parrish
“I think families
need to be extra-vigilant when visiting there in future.”
Howletts spokesman Amanda McCabe said: “We have replied directly
via email to Ms Parish and our health and safety officer has
inspected the area, where we believe her son got into the private
“There is a fence line made up of a hedge row separating the
private garden from the public picnic area.
"Within this hedged fence line there is a pedestrian gate which
is bolted on the inside of the gate and also marked by a sign
stating ‘Danger – Deep Water’.
“The gate has a panel of weld mesh either side. Access must have
been gained by pushing through this part of the hedge row to enter
the private garden area.
"This hedged fence line with a secured gate has been sufficient
to deter children or adults from climbing through or under to this
private area in the past and this is the only incident where a
visitor has been able to enter the private garden from the picnic
“We have over 250,000 visitors to Howletts each year and we are
always looking at ways to ensure that our visitors have a safe and
enjoyable visit and will look at the barrier in place to see if it
can be improved in any way to ensure there are no more incidents of
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