A giant rhea called Herbie spent nearly an hour on the run in Warminster town centre on Friday after it escaped from a garden in Weymouth Street.

The flightless bird, which looks like an ostrich but originates from South America, weaved in and out of the traffic on the busy main roads of the town while its owner Kim Hamblin gave chase.

The bird, which can reach speeds of up to 40mph, was seen by startled locals in Weymouth Street, High Street, The Close, Portway and near the war memorial.

Town councillor Sue Fraser, of Masefield Road, said: “I was driving into The Close by the hospital. There were a couple of people running after it. I thought I was going to hit it but it dodged around the back of the car.”

The three-year-old bird was cornered in a back garden near Warminster Community Hospital by Ms Hamblin and some passers-by. Police were called to pick it up.

Sgt Sean Brady said: “It is fair to say this was something that was out of the ordinary.

"We certainly don’t get calls to retrieve these birds from gardens every day. We were glad to help the owner and the incident should not happen again.”

Ms Hamblin is in the process of selling Herbie.

She said: “He usually only stays in the garden but this time he got out.

“The police were great. They did not have to do anything as I was going to organise a horse box but the police officer said he would take him in the back of the van.”