Emu causes chaos on school run

Barnstaple commuters get the bird after police tackle an escaped emu running loose in the town centre.

A runaway emu caused chaos after being spotted in the centre of Barnstaple this morning (Wednesday).

Bemused residents in St Georges Road near Pilton Park called the police after spotting the 4ft tall bird just after 8am.

PCSO Steve Huxtable and PC Zoe Parnell arrived and found the bird had been contained in a garden at Riddell Avenue. They managed to bundle the overgrown avian into the back of a police van while they waited for Diana Lewis of North Devon Animal Ambulance to arrive.

“It was quite friendly but put up a bit of a struggle as I tried to get it into the back of the van. It didn’t bite at all but kicked pretty hard and covered me in mud,” said PCSO Huxtable.

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“It was the first job of the day and quite an unusual one – I’ve dealt with deer, rabbits and cats and dogs before but never an emu.

“There were one or two people going past wondering why we had an emu sat in the back of the police van.”

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Then much to the interest of people on their way to work and parents with children on their way to school, PCSO Huxtable then wrestled the bird in to the back of Mrs Lewis’ ambulance when she arrived.

“He was wonderful and did all the hard work – it must have taken a great deal of strength to get it into the ambulance,” said Mrs Lewis.

“You can’t have something like that running about in the middle of Barnstaple and it would have caused traffic chaos out on the road.

“They are not something you would normally expect to keep in your back garden – their kick can be very dangerous and they are very fast indeed.”

The emu has been checked out by a vet and taken to the North Devon Animal Ambulance Rehoming Centre.

PCSO Huxtable said it is thought the animal had escaped from an address in Heppenstall road and that police were currently investigating whether the owner had the correct licences.

Emus are native to Australia and grow to more than 6ft tall. A similar species, the rhea, can also be domesticated.

Did you spot the emu in Barnstaple this morning? Do you live in the house in Riddell Avenue where the emu was detained? Call the newsdesk on 01271 345056 or email tony.gussin@archant.co.uk with your photos.

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