A giant rhea spent three hours on the run in Warminster after it gave its owner the slip and avoided attempts to keep it under control.

The giant bird can run up to 40 miles per hour and weigh up to 80lb when fully grown.

It spent some time weaving in and out of the traffic on Friday.

Eventually police managed to corner it in a back garden for the owner to collect.

Adam Taylor, 29, an eye witness, said: “I saw what I thought was an albino ostrich. I thought about getting out and helping but wasn't sure how safe a choice that was, as I was unsure if it was dangerous or not.

The bird's owner, who did not want to be named, said: “It's a male bird and unfortunately he has taken a dislike to me so when I went to get the post he just burst at me.

“He made a dash for it through the open gate and that was it. Unfortunately this time of year males can be really feisty.

“It wouldn't ever hurt anyone else, they my 10-year-old can play with them just fine. He made a run for it down the road and we had to wait for the police to corner it and bring it back.

“I'm in the process of selling off the house so I'm selling off the birds too, this was my last one.

“They are a South American bird and they keep them like sheep.”

Police initially believed that it could have come from Longleat Safari Park but they said all animals were accounted for.

Jim Suter, sector sergeant for Trowbridge and Bradford on Avon Police said on Twitter: “Police responding to report of ostrich running through #Warminster High Street.”

He later wrote: “The ostrich turned out to be a rhea located rear of #Warminster hospital and returned to owner.”