Missing rhea from Norfolk farm safely returned home

Chris, a rhea that had been wandering around Norfolk and Suffolk villages for months, has safely returned home.

Chris rhea escaped from a farm in Diss in late November 2023 and was spotted in a number of locations around East Anglia.
Chris has returned home to Flax Farm, photo by Debenham Vets.

The large South American bird escaped from a farm in Diss in late November 2023 and was spotted in a number of locations around East Anglia.

Suffolk residents recently spotted Chris in Wetheringsett, off the A140.

Reunited with his owner 

The owner of Flax Farm, Stephen Alleyne, just posted online that Chris is now safely home with his girlfriend Diane (DiRhea).

The owner added: “He escaped four months ago and has been on the rampage all over Norfolk and Suffolk, travell[ing] as far as Bedingfield 25 miles away.

“Over the last month he has been gradually getting closer to home revisiting some of his favourite villages and was caught only a mile from home.

“Diane (DiRhea) seems very pleased to have him back and [has] not left his side since. He is probably telling her all about his adventures.”

Fast but flightless  

As the largest species of South American bird, rheas are native to the continent’s eastern grasslands, growing to 5ft tall, weighing up to 66lb, and reaching speeds of up to 50mph.   

Stock image

Unsurprisingly, they are in the ratite family of flightless birds, which includes the well-known ostrich and emu. On farms, rheas are bred for exotic animal lovers or for their meat, which is known to be similar to beef, but sweeter.  

In addition to eating insects, rheas mostly graze by eating broad-leaf weeds, clover, and some grasses, but have also been known to snack on eggs, earthworms and even snakes.  

Experts suggested that although a 5ft sturdy fence will adequately contain the majority of rheas, a 6-8ft fence is recommended to eliminate the possibility of a rogue bird clearing the jump.  

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