A lamb belonging to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has been savaged to death in the grounds of David and Victoria Beckham's Hertfordshire mansion.

The culprit is believed to be a large cat - possibly a puma or a lynx - many of which are sighted throughout Hertfordshire and Britain each year....

Charlotte Church* savaged to death in the Beckhams' back garden

(*that’s the lamb Gordon Ramsay named after the Welsh singer and was rearing for his TV show)

3rd June 2007
Daily Mail

When Gordon Ramsay needed a grazing pasture for the lambs he is rearing on his latest TV show, he was grateful to his friends David and Victoria Beckham for lending him their 17-acre Hertfordshire estate.

But the chef's delight turned to horror when one of the lambs – named Charlotte Church, after the Welsh singer – was savaged to death just yards from the family home by what is believed to be a wild cat.

HUNTING GROUND: The Beckhams' Hertfordshire mansion, where Charlotte the lamb was killed

Both Ramsay and the Beckhams are said to be "horrified" and deeply shocked by the news.

The former Spice Girl was said to be particularly concerned at the possibility that the family's rottweilers had attacked the lamb, which was being reared by Ramsay as part of the third series of his Channel 4 show The F Word.

But when a vet was called to analyse the carcass, he told Ramsay and the film crew he suspected the lamb had been killed "by a big cat".

A number have been sighted in the area close to the Beckhams’ home, although none has ever been caught.

An insider on the show said: "Gordon has been devastated by the death of his lamb, as have the Beckhams.

HORRIFIED: Gordon Ramsay with one of the lambs. "Charlotte Church" may have been savaged to death by a large, wild cat.

"Last month Gordon received a phone call from one of the Beckhams' ground staff saying that the lamb had been killed.

"We sent Gordon and a film crew up immediately and sure enough it was Charlotte, but all that remained of her was her face.

"It was totally shocking. She had been savaged to death and all the flesh had been stripped from her bones.

"Gordon was absolutely beside himself. He had watched Charlotte and Gavin [the other lamb, named after the singer's rugby-player boyfriend Gavin Henson] be born and grow to a good size.

"The only reason the lambs went to the Beckhams' was because Gordon had run out of grass at his house.

"Charlotte and Gavin were loving the grass at the Beckhams' home and getting very plump."

The two lambs were named after Charlotte Church and her rugby player boyfriend Gavin Henson - only Gavin remains alive...

Farmers almost always leave lambs out overnight, unless the weather is particularly bad, and Charlotte and Gavin were no exception.

The source said: "The lambs were left out overnight to graze because the weather was mild and the Beckhams' grounds are incredibly secure with fences, and there was a sheepdog on site, too.

"It's shocking that there's a wild cat that could be on the run in Hertfordshire.

"Victoria was especially concerned as her children have a Shetland pony which was given to them as a present by Elton John.

"She made sure the pony as well as Gavin were kept in an outhouse at night after Charlotte was killed.

"When the vet saw Charlotte he was totally taken aback. He said it had all the markings of a big cat."

Hertfordshire Police were also notified by Optomen Television, which makes The F Word.

The lamb's carcass was sent to Scotland to be analysed by an autopsy expert.

"The specialist couldn't be 100 per cent sure, but he was 99 per cent sure that Charlotte had been killed by a big cat," the source said.

Large cats such as black panthers, lynxes and pumas are said to be living wild in the British countryside

"There have been sightings of large wild cats in Hertfordshire and Victoria's father sent Gordon a cutting from the local paper of a recent sighting.

"Gordon and the entire team are now quite sure that's how Charlotte was killed and they are all intent on finding out for sure.

"The autopsy specialist said that because the neck had not been broken, nor any of the lamb's bones, it was definitely not the Beckhams' dogs.

"Had it been a fox, the fox would have gone for Charlotte's tongue, which was still intact.

"The flesh had been torn from the bones, which is how a big cat eats its prey.

"Like the vet, the autopsy specialist could not rule out that the lamb had been killed by a big cat."

Viewers will see Ramsay help the vet put Charlotte, who was three months old, into a container to be transported to Scotland in an episode this month.

Just weeks ago viewers saw the 40-year-old chef breeding a French ram with a Welsh ewe to produce the cross-breed lambs which were due to be killed at the end of the series.

"Gordon is genuinely incredibly upset," said the source.

"He had become quite attached to Gavin and Charlotte, who had learned to recognise his voice and would come to him when he called them.

"His four children are shocked and upset, as they had been looking after the lambs when they were at Gordon's."

Gavin is now safely being reared at Ramsay's home in South London.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "The animals' welfare has always been of paramount concern to both Gordon and the programme-makers.

"Throughout, advice is sought from a range of organisations including the National Sheep Association as well as specialist farmers and breeders."

Last edited by Blackleaf; Jun 3rd, 2007 at 12:51 PM..