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SERVICES 
Friday, 16 November, 2001, 18:19 GMT
'Godzilla' the ostrich takes flight
An ostrich
The RSPCA warn that ostriches can be "lethal"
An escaped 6ft ostrich was chased for two hours through suburban streets dodging attempts to catch it.

Residents in Romford, Essex, tried to corner the large flightless bird with their cars and tried to tempt it with bread and grass.

The RSPCA was called in but only when its owner's son arrived did the bird, nicknamed "Godzilla", agree to be led home.


A lot of children had just come out of school. It could have been lethal

RSPCA spokeswoman
Schoolchildren watched the chase in amusement but the animal charity warned it was no laughing matter.

RSPCA spokesman Emma Nutbrown said: "It could have been a very different scenario and the inspector was very concerned about the number of people around.

"There is a very serious issue behind this in that ostriches are very dangerous animals.

"They have a very, very powerful forward kick and very sharp claws which can cause extremely serious injuries.

"A lot of children had just come out of school when the animal escaped and were very close to it. It could have been lethal."

'Seeing things'

Local resident Robert Dennington, 35, was delivering leaflets with his son Daniel, 14, when he spotted the bird.

"I said to Dan, 'Tell me what that is up the road, tell me I'm not seeing things'.

"He said it was an ostrich and I said to him: 'Thank you, Dan, I'm not going mad after all.'.

"Dan managed to feed him bits of bread and get it towards a closed-off area. When the bread ran out he fed it grass, which it seemed to like.

Zoo advice

"It went for me a couple of times. At one point we had it behind a 2ft high metal bar and I thought it would be OK because it couldn't fly.

"But then the thing jumped over it and came after me again. I couldn't believe it."

RSPCA inspector Steve Hazelwood said he was called out at 1400 GMT on Thursday.

"I immediately warned them that kicks from an ostrich can be fatal.

Flicked off

"I then called London Zoo for some advice on how to contain it.

"They suggested putting a hood over its head, and I tried to but it just flicked it off.

"They then suggested getting the vet to sedate it with a dart, but then the owner's son came along and led it home."

The RSPCA has contacted the local council to determine whether or not the owner had a licence to keep the bird.


Click here to go to Essex
See also:

15 Jul 00 | Scotland
Bertie the bull campaign hots up
06 Dec 98 | Europe
Escaped jaguar kills child
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