A South American giant bird that has been patrolling the fairways and greens of a golf club in Hertfordshire for the last month has been shot dead and will now be made into gourmet sausages.
The rhea, which was affectionately named Chris, after Eighties singer-songwriter Chris Rea, shot to national attention after escaping from his nearby enclosure on 17 April and making the Barkway Park Golf Club near Royston in Hertfordshire his home.
Since then, the bird has been a regular feature for golfers who play at the course.
However, on Monday ‘Chris’ had to be put down after it was feared his random wanderings might lead to a traffic accident.
It is now believed the carcass of the rhea will be taken to a specialist butcher where his meat will be used in gourmet sausages.
Gamekeeper Stuart Howe, who manages deer in a nearby village, was the person responsible for providing the deadly shot to the bird’s head from 70 yards away, after police decided it was the best solution.
Speaking to The Telegraph Mr Howe said: “I suppose some people might say it is a shame the rhea is dead but it would be terrible if it caused someone to die in a car crash."
He added: “What’s the life of a bird against the life of a person or family? The police wanted it out of the way and there was no way anyone would be able to capture it.”
He also said that it was better that an experienced marksman took the shot, as it ensured the rhea’s death was quick and painless.
The rhea is a flightless bird native to South America. It is known for being very fast and for its two claws that are said to be able to rip open those that get in its way.
This led to the RSPCA warning the public not to approach the bird if they came into close contact.
Despite these warnings, many of the golfers at the Parkway Course had become used to visits from the bird and they enjoyed their brief encounters.
Mike Rodgers, the golf club’s captain, said: “The golfers here sort of adopted it and used to enjoy seeing it grazing near the golf course. We were quite fond of the bird. It was never a particular nuisance and kept well away from golfers.”
Adding: “It’s sad that someone had to shoot it, but if it was a traffic hazard, I understand that.”
The decision to use the Rhea as food is one that is not unordinary for those in South America. For South American Gauchos, the Latin version of the cowboy, rhea meat is a staple part of their diet.