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Runaway rhea shot dead and 'to be made into sausages'

A runaway rhea named Rita who escaped from her enclosure in Hertfordshire almost two months ago has been shot dead by a gamekeeper - and will reportedly be turned into gourmet sausages.

Rheas are flightless birds native to South America. Credit: PA

The six-foot bird, which is native to South America, was killed by a single shot to the head by Stuart Howe, who told the The Daily Telegraph he understood that the police wanted the bird "out of the way" because they were worried that it could cause a car crash

Mr Howe, who is a deer manager, said it was better a professional marksman brought down the bird, and said the meat would be made into gourmet sausages.

"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," the 65-year-old told the newspaper.

A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said that the bird's owner had previously given permission for the bird to be "dispatched if the situation deemed it necessary, which was the case" and was aware of its death.