A mouse diced with death when it stole some food from under the nose of a leopard
Instead of pouncing on the mouse, the 12-year-old African leopard, called Sheena, simply watched as it fed on scraps of meat thrown into its enclosure.
At one stage she tried to nudge the mouse away with her nose, but the mouse carried on eating regardless.
The extraordinary scene was captured by Casey Gutteridge, a photography student.
The 19-year-old, from Potters Bar, Herts, who was photographing the leopard for a course project, was astounded by the mouse’s behaviour.
“I have no idea where the mouse came from – he just appeared in the enclosure after the keeper had dropped in the meat for the leopard.
“He didn’t take any notice of the leopard, just went straight over to the meat and started feeding himself. But the leopard was pretty surprised – she bent down and sniffed the mouse and flinched a bit like she was scared.
“In the meantime the mouse just carried on eating like nothing had happened.
“It was amazing, even the keeper who had thrown the meat into the enclosure was shocked – he said he’d never seen anything like it before.”
Jackie James, owner of the Leopard Project, said: “It was so funny to see – Sheena batted the mouse a couple of times to try to get it away from her food.
“But the determined little thing took no notice and just carried on.”
Sheena was brought in to the Leopard Project from a UK zoo when she was just four months old.
She is one of 14 big cats in the private collection started by Jackie’s late husband Peter in 1989.
The African Leopard can be found in the continent’s forests, grasslands, savannas, and rainforests.
The leopard is the most elusive of all the big cats. They are solitary animals and are primarily nocturnal – preferring to hunt at night.
The species is also a strong climber and is capable of killing prey larger than itself.
Leopard’s prey ranges from fish, reptiles and birds to smaller mammals such as hares and monkeys.