'Aggressive' ostrich-like 6ft bird on the loose can run to speeds of 30mph, police warn
An aggressive ostrich-like bird may have been sighted up to 15 miles away from its home, police have said.
South Yorkshire Police said its officers were now searching the Rotherham area for the 6ft tall male rhea reported missing from its home near Worksop in Nottinghamshire on Tuesday.
Armed police have been hunting the bird, which can accelerate to speeds of 30mph.
The public have been warned to steer clear of the animal and dial 999 if they see it.
A spokesman for the force said it was currently searching the Rother Valley area and surrounding land following reports of sightings by members of the public.
He said: "The bird has also been sighted in the Dinnington area.
"Officers are there to ensure that there is no risk to members of the public and the bird is located and captured as soon as possible."
The bird is thought to be the same one which went missing from a farm in Carlton-in-Lindrick between Monday evening and midday the following day.
Officers from the neighbouring force at Nottinghamshire Police said there had been "a number of unconfirmed sightings" by the public, but so far the bird had remained elusive.
A spokesman for the force, which is liaising with officers in Rotherham, said: "If the sighting is in Nottinghamshire, we will deploy officers to the scene and aim to contain it.
"We then plan to work with the RSPCA or a veterinary surgeon to help capture it as swiftly as possible."
The bird's owner Alex Macdonald yesterday said the powerful male was "aggressive" in part because it had fathered a cluster of eggs with its mate.
He believes the bird might have been stolen as a gate on the farm had been left open.
"It's speculation but I think it's been taken. Nobody's reported it and it's something you would report if you saw it," he said.
Mr Macdonald added: "She's all right. She doesn't really want to attack you when you come in but the male was aggressive, very protective because he was sat on the eggs.
"It's the male that does the sitting on the eggs with these - either that or ours is just odd because that is what he does.
"My dad's just put them in a bucket at the top of the garden hoping that he'll come back and will know to come to its eggs."
He said the animal was powerful and often needed four men to wrestle it to the ground when it needed moving.
Mr Macdonald added: "People take it lightly because they think it's just a little bird.
"But they don't understand, until you get into a field with one and wrestle one - they've got claws, they kick like mad.
"They're quite powerful and they can run quite fast - 30mph probably. That's quick."
Last year, another rhea - nicknamed Chris after the Road To Hell singer - went on the run in Hertfordshire.
The 6ft bird became a familiar face at Barkway Park Golf Club near Royston after it escaped from its enclosure nearby in April 2014, but police were worried it could cause a car crash.
After more than a month on the loose, the fugitive was shot dead by gamekeeper Stuart Howe, who turned the bird into gourmet sausages.