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Last Updated: Wednesday October 25 2006 14:33 GMT

Peckish pelican preys on pigeon

A peckish pelican left people in a London park petrified when it pounced on a poor pigeon for a picnic.

The pelican was strolling through St James's Park when it spotted a pigeon nearby, and before the smaller bird could fly away it was gobbled up.

To make things worse for the people watching (and the pigeon!) the pelican then took 20 minutes to swallow it.

A photographer captured the pigeon's plight on film and said it "was kicking and flapping the whole way down".

He added: "There was a bit of a struggle for about 20 minutes, with all these people watching. The pelican only opened its mouth a couple of times.

A pelican eating a pigeon
The pelican took 20 minutes to swallow the pigeon
"Then it managed to get the pigeon to go head first down its throat."

A spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Birds said the incident was very unusual. She said: "It is almost unheard of for a pelican to eat a bird. Their diet should be strictly fish."

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