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Tiger J’s Chocolates featured in the Newcastle Journal

news Tiger J Chocolates

Article as featured in the Newcastle Journal 17th August 2010

A TIGER attack survivor has vowed to support the species three decades after she was mauled at a North East zoo.

Animal-lover Janet Coghlan was just 12 years old when she was set upon by a Bengal tigress. The mauling at Seaburn Zoo, in Sunderland, left Janet needing 250 stitches and plastic surgery to wounds across her face, neck and body.

As reported in The Journal in August 1978, the schoolgirl had been helping out at the zoo during the school holidays when 10-month-old tigress Meena struck. She was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital before being transferred to Shotley Bridge Hospital, in County Durham, for surgery.

But the ordeal sparked a life-long concern for animal welfare and now professional caterer Janet has crafted a range of chocolates to help save the species.

Janet, now 44, who runs the Coghlan’s Cookery School, in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, with her husband Andrew, 46, has launched Tiger J’s chocolates to support the Born Free Foundation.

“I helped at the zoo because I loved animals and I still do. But animals like tigers should be in the wild, not in pens or cages,” said Janet, who lived in Talbot Road, Fulwell, Sunderland, at the time of the attack. “Things were very different back then and I used to go to help with friends in the school holidays.

“One day they asked my to hold the gate back in the tiger’s cage while the zoo owner was exercising it on a rope. The tiger was relieved to be out and it just went at me.

“I had 250 stitches in my face. I can still see the scars today, although people tell me they’re very faint.

“The only compensation I got from the zoo was a box of chocolates, so it’s fitting that I’m now making chocolates to help tigers.”

The zoo keeper claimed Meena, who featured in the film “When the North Wind Blows” and in TV adverts, was just being playful.

Janet’s father Ronald Davidson, 41, said at the time: “We do not bear any grudge. We accept that it was a complete accident.”

Her mother, Eleanor Davidson, added: “Janet has two claw marks across her face and another across her neck. But we have been told they are not too deep and she should not be scarred. It could have been worse – she could have lost an eye.”

But despite her horrific injuries, Janet had only one thought as she lay in hospital after being mauled by the Bengal tigress and said: “Please don’t let anything happen to her – she is a lovely animal. I am sure she didn’t mean to hurt me. Don’t have her destroyed.” Seaburn Zoo was part of the Ocean Park complex, which now houses a Morrison’s supermarket. The zoo, also home to 20 lions, closed shortly after the incident.

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