The mystery surrounding a family of enormous ostrich-like birds spotted running wild around a Scottish village last week, confounding and alarming everyone, has been partially solved, but the super-sized and reportedly aggressive avians remain on the loose.
A 6ft-bird accompanied by chicks was seen several times close to the East Ayrshire village of Patna last week, prompting police to caution locals against approaching the creature over concerns that it might attack.
‘We are warning members of the public not to approach the adult ostrich and to especially avoid approaching its young, as ostriches can be very protective and can become extremely aggressive,’ said SPCA Animal Rescue Officer Alistair Hill, amid confusion about where the clearly non-native birds had come from.
However, over the weekend it has transpired that the animals are not ostriches at all, but rheas, a species of massive, flightless birds native to South America, which is related to the ostrich. Known in Spanish as Ñandú Común, rheas are normally found in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. Reaching a height of 140cm and a weight of 25kg, they are the largest bird in the Americas.
Local couple, Elaine and Ian Wilson, bought three rheas six years ago to keep as pets, before recently deciding to sell them. When a prospective buyer visited their farm, however, one of the birds panicked and jumped over a stone wall.
Quite how he got his young out remains a mystery, but the family of escapees have remained on the loose around the usually quiet village on the banks of the River Doon, despite a major bird hunt, and now a twitter account has been set up in the dad rhea’s name.
— patna-ostrich (@PatnaOstrich) July 27, 2016
The so-called ‘Patna Ostrich’ has attracted quite a following, with nearly 900 followers now tracing his life on the run, many applauding his paternal instincts and libertarian ideals.
Well, time to try to squeeze my massive legs into this tiny sleeping bag and get some kip. #lifeontherun Thanks for all the Twitter love.
And despite the huge hunt to track him down, the male rhea has continued to elude authorities and local farmers out to get him and his young family.
Unsurprisingly, Flaviu is not best pleased to find himself back behind bars. ‘The most important thing is he’s safe,’ Dartmoor Zoo’s owner Benjamin Mee told the press on Sunday. ‘He’s grumpy but we’re already trying to find a female lynx to keep him company.’
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