A FIVE-year-old child was left alone at a big cat safari park following a school trip bungle.
Some 300 youngsters – accompanied by 70 adults – enjoyed a day out at Blair Drummond, near Stirling, which features lions and tigers among its attractions.
But a boy was left behind on Monday when the group returned to Pitcorthie Primary School and Nursery in Dumfermline, Fife.
It is thought the mistake was only discovered when the coach arrived at its destination – around an hour later.
The boy’s mother is believed to have been among parents who met the coach and she raised the alarm.
Teachers immediately called police who raced to the park and found the youngster, who is not thought to have suffered any harm.
Fife Council has launched an investigation into the incident at the park, which is extremely large, busy with cars, and features a big boating lake.
An education worker with the council said: “Everybody’s saying it’s unbelievable that this could have happened, a young child being left behind anywhere, never mind in a safari park with wild animals roaming about
“It seems that the first that they knew he was missing was when they got back to Dunfermline and the boy’s mum was waiting for him.”
Another source, a mother of a pupil who went to the park, said checks were carried out before the return trip.
She said: “I was on the trip and head counts were carried out before we came back.”
Fife Council confirmed that the entire school and nursery was on the trip, accompanied by 70 adults “to maintain ratios”.
The boy’s age strongly suggests he was a primary school pupil.
Peter McNaughton, Head of Service – Education and Children’s Services, said: “We are treating this incident extremely seriously and an investigation has been launched.
“As soon as the child was noted as missing immediate action was taken to contact Blair Drummond Safari Park and the Police. We have been in contact with the child’s parents and communication with the family is ongoing.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said officers from Stirling were called to the park at 3.30pm on Monday May 25 “following reports of a missing child”.
She added: “Officers attended, however the child was quickly traced and was safely returned to the care of his family.”
Ann Robertson, 41, a parent of a pupil who attended the trip as a volunteer said: “It’s the talk of the school.”
She added: “All I’ve heard is that they didn’t notice he was missing until they had come back.”
She confirmed that the whole school attended the trip, saying that on her bus they took a roll call “there and back”.
She said: “There’s extra measures been put in place on Monday and that’s still happened.
“I was quite upset”
The father of a female pupil at the school, who asked not to be named, said the school is due to close this year and children had been taken on several trips.
He said: “They’ve been on seven or eight trips this year.”
The man revealed that the school sent a text message to all parents yesterday morning.
It read: “You may be aware of an incident that took place during our school outing to Blair Drummond Safari Park on Monday.
“One of our children was reported missing. Immediate action was taken and thankfully the child was found sound and well.
“Unfortunately, I am unable to give you any more detail at this point because a full investigation of the circumstances of the event is being carried out.
“However, I’d like to assure you that we are treating this matter extremely seriously. The safety and welfare of all our children is, and always has been, of the utmost priority for us.
“Whatever the outcome of the investigation, we will ensure that any lessons are learned and applied.”
The council issued an updated statement, saying: “The five year old was found safe and well, still playing in the children’s play area, which is in a completely separate area to the animal enclosures.”
Twitter users were quick to weigh in on the news, with Scots comedian Greg Hemphill joking about the school blunder.
The Still Game star uploaded a black and white picture of Tarzan’s son stood next to a chimp, with the caption: “Glad to see the wee boy that was left behind at Blair Drummond Safari park is ok and seems to be doing well.”
More seriously, one girl, who is believed to live in the area, suggested that the child’s parents had to drive to the Safari park when they noticed the youngster hadn’t got off the bus.
Another user wrote: “Can’t believe Pitcorthie Primary left a bairn at the safari park, how is that even possible?”
Julia Sutherland said: “If I was his parents, I’d be spitting blood.”
Laura Park added: “Oh my gosh, terrifying that this happened.”