Nothing to crow about

BY KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 22/06/2009
Rooster
Reuters
DOING A RUNNER: Tricolore the rooster in full flight over the Westpac Stadium field before the game between the All Blacks and France.

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Tricolore the rooster is awaiting a new home after he and two feathered mates were let loose on the pitch at Westpac Stadium.

Although their antics thrilled the 35,000-strong crowd, the SPCA was unimpressed.

Tricolore was the first live French mascot to take to the pitch as the All Blacks battled France on Saturday night.

After a chase, security guards caught the bird and handed it to SPCA inspector Ben Lakomy.

While placing Tricolore in a box, he was alerted to another rooster with two Frenchmen.

Anthony Bigot and his uncle Laurent, of Toulouse, smuggled Pepino into the stadium beneath the younger man's jacket.

They escaped charges under the Animal Welfare Act when they agreed to release Pepino into SPCA's care after being threatened with a night behind bars.

"I am very sad, sad we lost the game and sad I have lost my rooster," Anthony Bigot said.

"We wanted to give Pepino to All Black coach [Graham] Henry but we missed out on that and the last few minutes of the game."

The pair bought Pepino for $10 in Dunedin and tried to take him into the test at Carisbrook, but were turned away, so tied him to a pole outside.

The pair said the SPCA should concentrate on ridding the country of battery-hen farming.

After the game, Mr Lakomy retrieved a third stressed rooster from the stadium. The birds were taken to the animal shelter.

Attempts to remove the red and blue stripes from Tricolore were unsuccessful. Staff believed oil-based paint or a strong dye had been used. "We are fostering it out so it can dust bath and hopefully speed up the process of getting the colour out," Mr Lakomy said.

All three roosters were highly stressed by their ordeals. "It was raining hard, their hearts were beating fast, all that noise and chasing was extremely stressful."

Pepino was the chirpiest and crowed loudly shortly after arriving at the shelter, attracting the attention of a little hen who jumped up and pressed her beak to the wires of her cage to see who the new boy was, he said.

Although the Frenchmen only received warnings, they could face charges of ill-treatment, which carried a fine of up to $25,000 or six months' imprisonment, if they repeated their antics.

"We understand roosters are very important for French people as a national emblem. But using a live rooster ... causes too much stress."

The SPCA hopes to send the three birds to live on a farm.

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Stadium chief executive David Gray said staff only checked under people's coats if they looked suspicious.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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