Dangerous giant bird that 'could kill a human' on loose in UK countryside

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A giant South American rhea bird that could disembowel a human with its six-inch claw is on the loose in the English countryside.

The bird went missing from its owner four weeks ago and was first spotted by cyclist Ray Murdoch in the village of Nuthampstead, near Stevenage.

According to the IB Times, Mr Murdoch said: "In the distance I saw what appeared to be a large bird, the closer I got the more perplexed I got, I thought it was a crane, I got closer [and realised] 'no it isn't.'

"The bird was trotting along just a couple of metres off the road in the edge of a field.

"As I got closer it kept looking over its shoulder at me. I think the rhea was as amazed to see a cyclist as I was to see a rhea."

Although the bird could be dangerous to humans, civil engineer Tim Bradshaw, who saw it in a field near the village of Anstey, said it seemed "more scared of me than I was of it".

The bird is owned by Jo Clarke, who said she keeps four rheas on her land because they eat a lot of weeds.

She said the bird had escaped after being spooked by the local hunt, but did not know how to capture it as the flightless animals can run at speeds up to 40mph.

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said it was urging anyone who spots the bird to get in contact with them.

One bird expert warned the public not to approach it, telling the Daily Mail: "They look nice but they are so strong it's unbelievable. They aren't listed as a dangerous animal but can kill you with one strike of their feet because their claws are six inches long.

"They will also go for your eyes with their beak."

Rheas are flightless birds native to South America. They are large with long legs and long necks, similar to an ostrich.

For the most part, Rheas are vegetarian and prefer broad-leafed plants but will also eat fruits, seeds and roots, as well as insects such as grasshoppers and small reptiles and rodents.

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Apparently, it's not the first time a rhea's been on the loose... See more below:

Rhea Bird Escapes