The image of a brave rat chancing his luck during a leopard’s lunch break has given a trainee photographer’s work worldwide exposure.
Casey Gutteridge, who has been with the Welwyn and Hatfield Times for 12 months, was at the Santago Rare Leopard Project, in Welwyn, on his day off.
While chatting with the zookeeper and snapping some of the cats he noticed a rat head straight for some meat meant for 12-year-old leopard Sheena.
Like any true professional, he took aim and captured the amazing photos which have been syndicated with his byline on many UK national newspapers and even made it into the New York Post along with other titles in Europe and around the world.
Casey, 19, told HTFP: “I went with another photographer on my day off to this park which is closing in September as the keeper can’t afford the upkeep.
“He was showing us all the leopards and feeding them so we could photograph them when he said ‘There’s a mouse or rat running over there’.
“It went straight over and started eating the meat but when Sheena realised that one of the pieces of meat was moving, she got scared and walked away.
“She started sniffing it and eventually took a bite out of the rat.”
Referring to his popular photos, Casey added: “It’s astonishing – I didn’t really realise how big it was but it’s quite an achievement.
“A lot of people have been saying to me they think it’s an amazing photo and wanting to buy copies.”
Casey is very much back to reality though as he waits on the result of his first exams from the National Council for the Training of Journalists, due out next month, and continues preparing for next May’s senior exams.