Runaway buffalo roam Newtown
Two runaway water buffalo have been re-captured after they escaped from a film set and charged two kilometres down King Street in Newtown.PT1M30S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-35fl8 620 349 March 25, 2014
Of all the unusual sights to have graced Newtown's King Street, the vision of two runaway buffalo competing with cars for right of way is surely unique.
Having escaped from a film set for a commercial at Sydney Park, the pair of buffalo ran two kilometres down King Street, before taking a turn up Missenden Road and ending up in front of the University of Sydney.
I’ve seen some pretty strange things but this definitely takes the cake
There, students of Moore College 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.
Where the buffalo roamed.
“There were cops and firemen everywhere and the guy who owns them was running around putting up barriers everywhere, it was crazy," student Talitha Salier told Fairfax Media radio station 2UE.
“[The buffalo] looked like, scared. One of them got mad agitated and went to go at them and then went back."
Miss Salier said one of the buffalo attempted to charge at the animal handler before “it got spooked” and ran into the truck. Once handlers quickly closed the back door of the vehicle, she said one buffalo could be heard “banging around”.
A handler tries to take back ownership of two water buffalo that escaped in Newtown. Photo: Channel Nine
One onlooker said the buffalo broke out from a make-shift pen in a car park off Sydney Park Road about 10am.
"When it happened the crew cleared out pretty quick," the onlooker said.
A spokeswoman for the company in charge of looking after the animals, said the buffalo were returned to their country home after their morning jog through inner-Sydney.
Not going quietly: the buffalo trapped out the front of a residence near the University of Sydney. Photo: Channel Nine
‘‘They are home and relaxed and happy and eating grass,’’ an A and J Animal House spokeswoman said.
RSPCA officers were seen talking to crew members at the park as they prepared to film again in the afternoon.
An RSPCA spokesman said the film company did not have an animal welfare officer present during filming, which was the usual practice with pre-approved productions.
The area in Sydney Park where two water buffalo escaped during the filming of an ad. Photo: Tamara Dean
A City of Sydney spokeswoman said the council had issued a filming permit to a production company to film a commercial.
"The City was assured by the filmmakers that there would be two experienced stock handlers on the set at all times, from an animal wrangling company with more than 25 years’ experience," the spokeswoman said.
The company also advised that the two water buffalo were both halter and lead-trained and on the day of the shoot would be entirely enclosed with mobile fencing, or securely tethered.
An investigation has begun into the incident and whether the filmmakers had the appropriate safeguards in place, the spokeswoman said.
Fire crews on the spot
Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Ian Krimmer said firefighters returning from an earlier call got a surprise when the animals ran in front of them.
He said firefighters showed great initiative, using their ladders as a portable fence and coaxing the animals into a front yard.
A spokesman from NSW Fire and Rescue said crews "used a variety of ladders, a jumbo ladder and normal ladder from the truck, and used a stokes litter, which is a yellow long stretcher...to make a mobile pen and keep the animals cornered in”.
With thousands of witnesses, news of the roaming buffalo spread like wildfire on social media. By lunchtime, a Twitter handle had already been created for @NewtownBuffalo.
Sydney University student Rachel Murdolo said she was walking to class when she saw two of the beasts charging down King Street.
“I was walking down King Street towards the city and these two big bulls were running along the inner side lane towards the city,” Ms Murdolo said.
“It was kind of bizarre but it was Newtown so I didn't think it was that unusual,” she said.
Ms Murdolo said she saw a buggy filming the animals as they ran down King Street towards Sydney University.
Two minutes later she saw a police car speeding down the road in the same direction, followed by a fire truck.
Another Sydney University student Abril Felman was sitting at a bus stop on the corner of Holt and King streets when she saw what she thought were two bulls.
“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,” Ms Felman said.
Interesting sight in a Newtown front yard. They look at home, no? Fireys and wranglers trying to get them home. pic.twitter.com/lvJTXbS1D7— Damien Smith (@DamienSmith_7) March 24, 2014
“We were a bit shocked that the road wasn’t blocked off,” she said.
“I’ve seen some pretty strange things but this definitely takes the cake.”
- Amanda Hoh and Emma Partridge