Escaped water buffalo run loose in Sydney, trample azaleas


Drivers in cars and a truck watch two water buffaloes running down a main street in Sydney March 25, 2014. The two water buffaloes startled residents of an inner-Sydney suburb on Tuesday morning, as they pelted 2 km (1.2 miles) down a city street past disbelieving pedestrians, while car drivers scurried to get out of the way. Eyewitnesses told local media the buffaloes looked agitated, having escaped from a city park where an advertisement was being filmed. (Abril Felman/Reuters)

Students at University of Sydney encountered a totally different variety of free-range meat today when two water buffaloes escaped from a film set and went tearing down the Australian university town’s trendy main street.

“I came outside and saw these two buffalo just jogging along the road,” student Brendan Pryke told the Daily Telegraph. “You see some weird things in Newtown, but this?”

The report was greeted with skepticism by those who didn’t witness it firsthand:

The pair frolicked for two kilometers down King Street. “I just saw what I thought were two bulls sprinting down King Street followed by a jeep rigged up with filming equipment. It had camera equipment and was following them,” student Abril Felman told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“There were people pointing and screaming and all sorts of stuff. The buffaloes were darting in and out of the traffic,” Station Commander Brad Black told the Telegraph.

The bulls made a pit stop at Moore Theological College where students “were granted the sight of a fully dressed cowboy, complete with lasso, out in their front yard capturing the beasts, who weren’t going without a fight,” the Herald reported.

“There were cops and firemen everywhere and the guy who owns them was running around putting up barriers everywhere, it was crazy,” Talitha Salier told Fairfax Media radio station 2UE.

The animals ended up in Vice Principal Bill Salier’s front yard on Carillion Avenue, according to the school’s website. “They’ve made a mess of my azaleas,” Salier’s wife Sue told the Telegraph.

Firefighters returning from an earlier call happened by the scene and sprang into action. A spokesman for New South Wales Fire and Rescue told the Herald that the crew “used a variety of ladders” to corner the animals in a makeshift pen.

“I’m used to dealing with all sort of bull around this area, so just another day in the job of a firefighter in Newtown,” said Newtown Fire Station Commander Brad Black.

One of the buffaloes got “mad agitated” and attempted to charge at the animal handler before “it got spooked” and ran into the truck, Talitha Salier told the Herald. Handlers finally cornered the fugitives and loaded them into a vehicle where one of them could be heard “banging around.”

They animals were taken home after the escapade where a spokesperson for A and J Animal House, the company in charge of looking after the animals, says they are ‘‘relaxed and happy and eating grass,” the Herald said. The animals’ purported twitter handle @NewtownBuffalo was up and running by noon.

A Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals representative told the Herald that the company filming the commercial that featured the buffaloes did not have an animal welfare officer present during filming, a standard practice.

A spokesperson for the City of Sydney, which issued the filming permit, said they were told there would be “two experienced stock handlers, from an animal wrangling company with more than 25 years’ experience, on the set at all times,” the Telegraph reported. “The City is investigating the incident and whether the filmmakers had the appropriate safeguards in place,” she said.

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.
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