Two hurt in vulture attack horror

A FUN holiday trip to a bird show became a nightmare for two Suffolk friends after a huge vulture went on the attack.

A FUN holiday trip to a bird show became a nightmare for two Suffolk friends after a huge vulture went on the attack.

Mary Corcoran is today still trying to recover from the shock of the attack which saw her needing hospital treatment after being pinned down by the massive bird.

Her friend Teresa Largent was also injured after the bird pecked her in the stomach in the rare attack.

The Griffin vulture which has a wingspan of up to three metres and can weigh nearly two stone swooped during a show at the popular Jungle Park in Tenerife.

And once the keeper had gone in to rescue the pair, he had to punch the vulture away after it came back for more.

First it pecked Mrs Largent's stomach, then swiped their programme and proceeded to perch on Mrs Corcoran's shoulder. The sheer weight of the three-foot long bird pinned her down and she began to feel a burning sensation down her back and arm, as its huge claws dug into her skin.

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Mrs Corcoran, a mother of three, from Kesgrave still bears the scars of the onslaught, which saw her receive treatment at a local hospital. She was so traumatised by the incident that she was unable to talk about it for several days.

It happened as the pair's week-long holiday was coming to an end and now Mrs Corcoran has vowed never to return to another bird show.

The 56-year-old said: “It seems so unreal now. We were watching the bird show and the vulture was on its perch but then it decided to fly across the arena to us and went onto my shoulder.

“I could not look to see what was causing me this pain because the bird was on my back. My friend said I was screaming but I can't remember it. The keeper came over and got the bird away but as he was taking me out of the arena, it flew back towards me and the keeper had to thump it. That is when the real fear and panic set it as I thought it was coming back to eat me.

“I could not stop shaking. I was a mess and had to be taken away in a wheelchair because I couldn't walk. I couldn't speak about it for a few days afterwards. I've never known any shock like it.

“I dread to think if the same thing had happened to a child. It could have been worse so I feel lucky in some ways.”

Teresa Largent, 52, of Playford Road, Ipswich said the bird's beak felt like a pair of scissors cutting into her.

She said: “It was really painful.

“We were both just screaming - it seemed like ages before anyone came to the rescue.

“I'm scared of birds now - you don't think you are going to get attacked by them.

“There were children and babies there and if it had pecked one of them they would have been seriously injured.”

The Jungle Park is a popular tourist attraction in Las Aguilas, south Tenerife. It has two birds of prey shows a day, giving visitors the chance to see falcons, vultures and eagles in free flight. There are about five vultures at the park, including American and Griffin vultures.

A spokeswoman at Jungle Park said: “The animals are free so we cannot control what they will do because they are animals.

“I have only heard of this thing happening maybe twice in 15 years. The keepers are working with them everyday and have insurance for that. They are professional and know what to do.”

- Have you ever had a similar close encounter? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

View from bird expert:-

Andrew Farrow at The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Barns, which keeps birds of prey, said: “It is a completely rare incident. “The only thing is when you work with wild animals, they can be unpredictable.

“They have bad days and can be grumpy but they would normally go to the keeper because they know them. They would not tend to do this sort of thing normally.”

Fastfacts on vultures:-

- There are 23 species of vultures in the world

- They are among the largest birds of prey, with wing spans reaching up to ten feet

- In warm conditions, or where there is sufficient updraft, the birds can soar for hours on end - sometimes all day.

- Vultures are scavenging birds, feeding mostly on the carcasses of dead animals

- The vulture has few predators. Its most common defensive tactic is to projectile vomit at his adversary and fly away.

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