Large flightless bird closes Indiana highway

AP News
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Posted: Oct 28, 2014 11:19 AM

PERU, Ind. (AP) — A large flightless bird forced the closing of a northern Indiana highway while police officers and motorists tried to chase it down.

The 5-foot-tall bird called a rhea escaped from a farm Monday and ran onto U.S. 24 near Peru, about 80 miles north of Indianapolis. Rheas are native to South America and similar to ostriches and emus.

Corralling the bird was no easy task as it ran around a ramp between U.S. 24 and U.S. 31, state police 1st Sgt. Bob Burgess told the Kokomo Tribune (http://bit.ly/1nKXlcz ).

"This thing would just all of a sudden take off like a jet," he said. "Everybody was a little bit skeptical about grabbing ahold of it because it could kick you and it had some pretty vicious talons."

An animal control arrived and shot the rhea with a tranquilizer dart. Burgess said the tranquillizer didn't take effect immediately, causing officers to block the highway for around 10 minutes as they attempted to capture it.

Meanwhile, officers contacted the bird's previous owner, who arrived on the scene and was able to tackle it.

Burgess said the previous owner loaded the bird into a pickup truck and returned it to its new owner.

He said the owners had been looking for the bird ever since it jumped over a fence and disappeared into a cornfield over the weekend.

"It was kind of a circus there for a little a bit," Burgess said. "This thing could run like nobody's business."