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Last Updated: Friday, 8 September 2006, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Escaped 5ft bird found in field
The three South American rheas
South American rheas can kill with one strike of their claws
A potentially lethal 5ft flightless bird that escaped from a smallholding in Kent has been found in a field.

Ralph, a South American rhea, fled his enclosure in Benenden on Monday when his owner introduced pigs to his pen.

RSPCA officers warned the three-year-old was capable of killing a human with one strike of his 6in claws.

Ralph was discovered in a ploughed field close to the village. Owner Sue Savage said he put up "a hell of a fight" and was in a state of shock.

Local residents formed a circle to hold him until RSPCA officers arrived to help recapture him.

For some birds, they never recover from shock. It will be 50-50 whether he survives
Owner Sue Savage

Mrs Savage, 44, said Ralph was reluctant to be put in her trailer.

"He tried to make a run for it. He certainly wasn't coming willingly.

"We had to wrestle him to the ground and during that he was putting up a really vigorous fight."

She said Ralph was being taken back to the farm so the extent of any injuries could be investigated.

"For some birds, they never recover from shock. It will be 50-50 whether he survives," she said.

"I'm relieved he has been [found] safe and hasn't been involved in an accident or something serious," she said.

Mrs Savage and her husband Mike, 46, keep 10 of the flightless birds at their farm as well as pigs, chickens, horses, sheep and geese.


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