Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rhea bird killed by low-flying hot-air balloon: Owner says noise from aircraft spooked animal so badly he was fatally injured by force of running into fence

An animal sanctuary owner has claimed the noise from a low-flying hot air balloon caused the death of one of her prized birds.

Kim Adam, 54, was left devastated after the balloon caused chaos among her animals when it hovered over her land.

A white rhea bird called Hamish was sent into such a panic that he fatally injured himself, Ms Adam has said.

The drama happened earlier this month at the Feufield Farm Animal Sanctuary which Ms Adam runs near Symington, Lanarkshire.

Ms Adam said the pilot of the Virgin Balloons craft has apologised and offered to pay for a new rhea and the veterinary bills.

Ms Adam, who auditioned for Britain's Got Talent last year and later recorded a single, said: 'It was first thing in the morning and I was out feeding the animals and I noticed this huge hot air balloon only a few hundred feet from us.

'Hamish and our other rhea Heather started to panic when they heard the noise from the engine.

'A hot air balloon is big for a human to look at but to them it just looks like a massive predatory bird coming after them.

'Hamish and Heather were banging themselves against fences and building desperately trying to escape from their enclosure.

'When I went into see them they were covered in blood.'

The two birds were monitored following the incident but when Hamish's body started to go into spasms the next day vets decided he had to be put to sleep.

Ms Adam said the death of the four-year-old bird had left staff and visitors to the sanctuary devastated.

She said: 'This is a real tragedy for us, it's so sad and it just didn't need to happen.

'When I spoke to the pilot I told him how much damage it had caused. He was very apologetic and said they wouldn't fly in the area again but it is too late for Hamish.

'We feel we are at risk of aerial attacks and I have contacted the Civil Aviation Authority for help in warning pilots to avoid flying overhead.'

A Virgin Balloons spokesman said: 'We were very sorry to hear about this sad event.

'Unfortunately, the sanctuary was not marked as a sensitive area on the ballooning maps, so the pilot was not aware of it and the balloon was legally permitted to be below 1,000ft as it was on approach to landing.

'The site will now be added to the maps so balloonists are aware in the future and, at the owner's request, the pilot agreed to purchase a new rhea for them.'

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