Dutch parliamentarians condemn French family's actions in safari park

Family runs from cheetahs after getting out of their car in Beekse Bergen
Family runs from cheetahs after getting out of their car in Beekse BergenPhoto: Screenshot / Youtube

Dutch parliamentarians are flabbergasted by an incident in safari park Beekse Bergen in Hilarenbeek this weekend. A French family, including a young child, got out of their car to take photos of sunbathing cheetahs and were nearly attacked. Another visitor to the park filmed the incident and posted it on YouTube.

PvdA parliamentarian William Moorlag told newspaper AD that he is 'shocked' by the video. "Chills are running down my spine", he said. "Especially when you see that a child is exposed to the risk of being devoured. These people took irresponsible risks."

CDA parliamentarian Maurits van Martels called what the family did a 'stupid action'. "These people took 'going on safari' quite literally", he said to the newspaper. VVD MP Arne Weveling added: "You shouldn't even think about what could have happened."

According to PVV parliamentarian Dion Graus, the family was very lucky. He points out that the park already closed a lions' residence to cars because of this type of behavior. "If the incident had happened there, they would be dead."

SP parliamentarian Frank Futselaar called it a "very worrying incident", according to AD. "Especially because a child was involved."

The parliamentarians don't think that Beekse Bergen has to implement stricter rules after this incident. Visitors are already not allowed to get out of their car in the park - this family ignored the rules.

"We should not go into the reflex to impose more rules. Visitors to a safari park must adhere to the safety regulations and that was clearly not the case here", VVD MP Weveling said. CDA MP Van Martels points out that there are always people who "do not take the house rules too seriously", but also doesn't think more rules are needed. He added that the park "would do well to make sure the house rules are adequately portrayed, also for foreign visitors".

"People are instructed multiple times through several warnings to keep windows and doors closed", Graus of the PVV said to the newspaper. According to him, the blame lies entirely with the persons deciding to ignore the rules. "Such people also shoot into two closed railway booms", he said. 

"Of course the animal park always has a big responsibility, especially in the field of information provision", SP parliamentarian Futselaar said. "But there is also a degree of responsibility if you decide to consciously ignore the rules."

The PvdA too places the final responsibility with the visitor, but adds that Beekse Bergen also plays an important role. "Of course you have to inform people well and take into account visitors who were not in the front of the queue when the dear lord handed out intellect", Moorlag said to the newspaper. "Setting rules is perhaps the first reflex, but if people are this stupid they will not help. Everyone with normal common sense knows not to do this." 

Moorlag adds that the park should carefully consider how such incidents can be prevented in the future. "For example by locking the doors of visitors' cars so that people can not jump out thoughtlessly." But he emphasized that a watertight system does not exist.

Niels de Wildt, manager at Beekse Bergen, announced that the park is not taking any extra measures. "We are pretty sure about that. If we doubted our information provision, we'd take extra measures. We checked everything, it's safe as houses. What these people thought in doing this is a question we can't answer. It is very clear what the rules are."