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Sanctuary stepped in to help after birds escaped
A RELIEVED pet owner, whose unusual birds escaped from her County Durham smallholding last week, has thanked a nearby animal sanctuary for helping to bring them home.
Jill Katai's South American rheas, Pablo and Consuela, were so spooked by a combine harvester in a field near their home in Old Eldon, near Bishop Auckland, they jumped over a 6ft fence and made off into the countryside.
Pablo was found on a neighbour's land, where he was kept safe. Consuela, however, was nowhere to be seen.
"We finally tracked her down in fields about a mile away, " said Mrs Katai.
"I contacted all the animal charities I could think of and all the local vets, but no one would help."
Resembling mini ostriches, rheas are flightless birds that can run at speeds of up to 35mph and can break a human leg with one kick.
Pablo and Consuela have been living on Mrs Katai's land for seven years. Before that, the birds had been living in a rundown allotment, where they received very little attention from their owner, who worked abroad.
Mrs Katai said it had been distressing to have her pleas for help turned down, especially when one request led toan offer to kill the bird.
Unsure where to turn next, she rang Kays Hill Animal Sanctuary, near West Auckland, where owner Kevin Plummer assembled a team of volunteers to assist Mrs Katai.
"Rheas used to be classed as a dangerous bird so we knew we had to handle the situation with care, " said Mr Plummer.
"It took a lot of time and patience, but we eventually managed to guide it out onto the road. Mrs Katai's neighbours stopped the traffic while we walked it back to the smallholding."
Mrs Katai, who has made a donation to the sanctuary, said: "I would like to thank all the volunteers from Kays Hill for their help. The birds are now back home, safe and well."