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Chris, the runaway rhea, might have led the people of Hertfordshire on a merry dance for more than a month, but the 6ft bird’s days could be numbered.

Locals are threatening to shoot the South American creature, which has evaded all attempts to capture her since she escaped from captivity after being spooked by a local hunt.

The bird has become a frequent sight in a small area in the north east of the county, but with a top speed of 45 mph, her pursuers have not been able to get close to her.

The RSPCA has warned people not to approach the creature, which has a reputed ability to disembowel a person with a flick of its six inch claws.

But Jo Clark, her owner, believes this has led to some people in the area attempting to bring a swift end to the hunt, by shooting Chris. She is also concerned farmers might kill her, to stop her damaging crops.

The former Page Three model and professional showjumper, 53, added: “I’m absolutely horrified at the thought someone will try to get rid of her because they think she’ll disembowel them with her claws. It’s utter nonsense.

“This is a very rural area and there are an awful lot of people around who have shotguns, I’d imagine most farmers have one to help them get rid of pests.

“I’m really worried that she’ll come to harm now because people think she represents a danger. I can say honestly that she would never hurt anyone, she’s been eating out of my hand for years.

“It’s just not true that my rhea would attack anyone,” she continued. “It’s such a silly idea, she’s a gorgeous bird and would be terrified if anyone chased her.

“I want people to know that she’s not going to hurt anyone because otherwise someone is going to end up shooting her. That would be a tragedy.”

Jane Garner, who runs a local newsletter and has been helping co-ordinate efforts to bring in the bird, has been contacted by one man who has vowed to shoot the creature, and has heard reports of others hatching similar plans.

“Every second person round here has a shotgun license and there is now a lot of talk about shooting Chris,” she said. “It seems insane to me, but around here it wouldn’t surprise me at all if someone shot her.”

Chris seems to have settled in the area around Barkway Park Golf Club, where she is a regular visitor - in particular to the Par 4, 367-yard second hole. She was spotted there yesterday, but had vanished again by the time Ms Clark reached the scene.

She hopes to entice the creature in with a bucket of her favourite dry dog food. Once she is near enough, Ms Clark will place a large sock over the creature’s head, at which point, she should become docile and calm enough to be taken back to her enclosure.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The runaway rhea that has been roaming a golf course for more than a month has finally met its end at the hands of a gamekeeper.


The 6ft South American bird, which was reputedly capable of disembowelling a man with its claws, had become a familiar sight to players at Barkway Park Golf Club near Royston, Herts, after escaping from its enclosure nearby.


But it wandered into Stuart Howe’s rifle sights in a nearby oil seed rape field, and the deer manager killed it with a single shot to the head from 70 yards.


Mr Howe yesterday insisted the bird had not suffered, and said the meat would be made into gourmet sausages. He added that he understood that the police wanted the bird dispatched because they were worried that it could cause a car crash.


Mike Rodgers, the golf club’s captain, said he was sorry the rhea — named Chris after the singer Chris Rea — had been shot. “It’s sad that someone had to shoot it, but if it was a traffic hazard, I understand that,” he said.



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apparently, he's a she


Fortunately Mrs Clarke, a former Page Three model and show jumper, still has three younger rheas on her smallholding. “They are lovely birds. They keep the broad leafed weeds down by feeding on them and it means I don’t have to use pesticides,” she said.


Page 3 show jumper. Impressed.

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I've eaten ostrich in Japan. There is an ostrich zoo/farm thing up in Ibaraki. You go round and look at them, maybe feed them, and then, in classic Japanese animal welfare stylee, eat one as yakiniku. There are some other furry things to look at and play with too. As B-kyu attractions go, it's pretty good.


When feeding the ostriches, one of the snatched my daughter's little toy tray and it fell into their compound. We got the guy to go and fetch it, and he went in with a long bit of bamboo which he used to take out the leader with a lusty blow to the neck. It staggered a bit and then totally keeled over. It was like watching something off a cartoon.

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