Shocked homeowner discovers rhea sleeping in flowerbed

The rhea was discovered relaxing in a flowebed Picture: RSPCA

The rhea was discovered relaxing in a flowebed Picture: RSPCA - Credit: RSPCA

The RSPCA is searching for the owner of a stray rhea after it “casually strolled” into an Essex garden.

An Essex homeowner discovered a rhea in their back garden Picture: RSPCA

An Essex homeowner discovered a rhea in their back garden Picture: RSPCA - Credit: RSPCA

The large bird, similar to an ostrich, was found sleeping in the flowerbed of a garden in Great Horkesley, roughly three miles north of Colchester.

According to the homeowner, it settled down among the plants after strolling in through a side gate on Friday, November 9.

RSPCA Inspector Ann Bennett, along with a team from Colchester Zoo, attended the next morning and managed to catch the unusual stray.

The rhea is said to be socialised and “used to human company,” but was tricky to catch due to its powerful legs and sharp claws.


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The bird, which is believed to have been wandering around the area for several days, was taken to Colchester Zoo – where it will be kept temporarily while attempts are made to find their owner.

Inspector Bennett said: “The homeowner said that the rhea casually strolled into his garden and after having a look around, sat down and went to sleep in their flower bed. It must have been quite an unusual sight.

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“We are so grateful to them for keeping the rhea safe in their garden until we could arrange to move the bird.

“As you can imagine catching and then transporting a rhea can be a little tricky so I am so grateful to the staff at Colchester Zoo who came out to collect the bird and are temporarily keeping the rhea while we try to locate an owner.

“If an owner is not found then the rhea will be taken to a more permanent base before being adopted.

“It is believed this rhea may have been wandering around the area for several days as I understand the police had received a call midweek regarding the bird.

“The rhea appeared to be socialised and used to human company, but we took great care when trying to catch the bird as rheas have powerful legs and sharp claws.”

The common rhea stands around 120cm (four feet) tall and weighs around 20kg (50 pounds). They tend to be brown or grey in colour, with whitish underparts, and originate from South America.

Inspector Bennett added: “We are keen to find the owner of the rhea and anyone with any information as to who may own this lovely bird is urged to call the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.”

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