FIREFIGHTERS stepped in to free a distressed seagull tangled up in balloon ribbon and hanging upside-down from a TV aerial on the roof of a Stanford-le-Hope home.
The RSPCA also attended and are now warning people about the dangers balloon releases can pose to animals.
Worried onlookers had spotted the bird dangling and flapping around unable to break free on top of the roof in Capel Close last Thursday.
There were concerns the gull might die of shock as it struggled through the stressful ordeal, but residents called the RSPCA and Essex Fire and Rescue Service, who came to the bird’s aid.
Firefighters were called to the property at 2.40pm and used an aerial ladder platform to reach the bird. They had released it by 3.55pm, and the RSPCA then transferred the seagull to South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Orsett.
RSPCA Animal Collection Officer Joseph White said: “I would really like to thank the firefighters for all their effort in helping to rescue this bird. Had the bird been left they would have suffered tremendously as there was no way they could get free by themselves.
“The firefighters were able to cut the bird free then put them in a cardboard carrier. When the bird was brought down to the ground I held it and a firefighter cut off what I believe was balloon ribbon from the bird’s legs.”
The bird is still recovering at the hospital, although he is still unable to use his leg properly at this time.
Later that day, people who had witnessed the events on social media praised the firefighters for saving the seagull’s life.
One witness said: “Brilliant response from the fire brigade and RSPCA. Hope the bird survives.”
The RSPCA, along with other welfare groups, is calling for an end to balloon and sky lantern releases, and following this incident released a statement saying they can be lethal to animals.
And they added: “Deflated or fragments of balloons can be mistaken for food. Ingesting balloons can cause a slow death to wild birds and mammals as well as farm animals, horses and marine life, by blocking the digestive or respiratory tracts, and the attached strings can strangle.
“Even balloons that are classified as ‘degradable’ are unsafe, as they can take weeks to break down so still pose a risk.”