Prize budgies killed and stolen in Cornwall
A leading budgerigar breeder has told how thieves stamped three of his birds to death and stole another 21 from an aviary at his house in Cornwall.
Andrew Pooley, 58, from Delabole, said he "felt sick" when he discovered the dead birds just before the Cornwall Budgerigar Show.
One of the three killed was Penmead Pride, which was crowned show champion in 2009, he said.
Police in Cornwall said there was "obviously a market for these birds".
Mr Pooley, who made the discovery on 20 August, said he found his aviary unlocked the previous night but did not check inside until the next morning when he was about to feed the birds.
Although he had more than 40 birds left, Mr Pooley said the incident made him withdraw from the show because Penmead Pride was "the best budgie that I'd ever bred, without a shadow of a doubt".
He said: "I was devastated. I felt sick. It's a feeling I can't explain.
"I have spent 40 years of my life breeding budgies and it's just in the last five that I have started to do really well on the show circuit.
"I spent most of my time with the birds, they were my life."
Devon and Cornwall Police said: "We were called to the property on 20 August after the owner found 21 birds worth £2,000 had been stolen. Some had also been killed."
Mr Pooley added that he had made appeals in specialist budgerigar publications in the hope of getting his birds back.
Former World's Strongest Man and champion budgerigar exhibitor Geoff Capes said it was a "very sad story" but that he had "heard of such incidents before".
He said: "If people are determined to enter or break in, they will."
Mr Capes added that he sympathised with Mr Pooley about the amount of work he put in with his birds.
He said: "It's a lifetime's work. They're like members of the family and it's soul-destroying when this happens."