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'Chimp up a chimney' and other bizarre rescues

Last year, fire crews in the capital had to rescue 620 animals. Photo: Katie Collins, PA

A series of bizarre call-outs has forced the Fire Brigade to issue a plea to Londoners not to make it the first port of call for animal rescues.

Over the last five years, the fire service has been called out to a chimp up a chimney, an iguana on a roof and a hamster stuck in a lift.

Fire chiefs are concerned that animal rescues are taking up too much of their time - and that the numbers are rising.

Last year, fire crews in the capital had to rescue 620 animals - a 60% increase over the last six years.

That means fire crews were called out, on average, every 14 hours to deal with a creature in trouble.

"It is time to dispel the old stereotype about firefighters rescuing cats from trees, our crews are highly trained emergency service personnel.

"If there is a cat up a tree, or an animal stuck anywhere, the first port of call should always be the RSPCA, not the emergency services."

"Pet owners need to keep a close eye on their animals in a bid to avoid some of these situations happening. What's worrying is that when firefighters are out rescuing animals, they're not available to attend real emergencies.

"Each animal rescue costs money and in these tough financial times, many people question why their taxes are being spent on some of the animal rescues we've highlighted today."

– London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson

RSPCA spokeswoman Klare Kennet said: "If you see a cat up a tree, we'd advise you to leave it for 24 hours before calling the RSPCA as they usually manage to get themselves down."

In the past five years London Fire Brigade has been called out to rescue:

  • An iguana from a roof in Tower Hamlets in May 2007
  • A parrot trapped in its cage in Waltham Forest in January 2008
  • A dog stuck in a wheelchair in a flat in Richmond in May 2008
  • A puppy with its head stuck in an exercise machine in a house in Hillingdon in April 2008
  • A kitten with its head stuck in a bongo drum in Newham in October 2009
  • A snake that had escaped at a retirement home in Hounslow in July 2009
  • Two dogs in a toilet in Bromley in July 2009
  • A chimp in a chimney in Tower Hamlets in January 2010
  • An adult hamster trapped in a disabled lift in Greenwich in April 2010
  • A kitten trapped in a reclining chair in Croydon in May 2012.