An 11-year-old boy was punched and sprayed with ‘silly string’ by a gang of teenagers – who were trying to steal an owl.
The boy and his friend were walking along Euston Road with a white-chested Barn Owl when they were approached by the gang of around 10 youths outside Morecambe Travelodge.
One of the gang said “Give me your owl” and adopted a boxing pose.
With an outstretched arm he then sprayed both boys with the silly string while shouting abuse.
The shocked 11-year-old boy, who is from Morecambe, threw his drink at the teen before taking the owl from his friend.
He was then twice punched to the side of the head as he and his friend fled in separate directions.
The teenagers gave chase but both victims escaped.
Police said the 11-year-old fled through the Arndale Centre while carrying the owl.
Prior to the assault, the boy had taken his pet to watch a display of birds at the shopping centre.
“The young man was stood next to us with a group of lads, and people were stroking his owl,” said Nick Henderson of Corio Raptor Care at High Bentham, organiser of the display.
“I politely asked him to move along because the bird was getting distressed.”
PC Ben Hanley said: “This is a really odd incident.
“The boy was not seriously hurt but he was punched twice and has been left with swollen cheekbones on either side of his face which could leave him with black eyes. He quite shaken up.
“The use of the string has clearly caused the owl some distress but fortunately they managed to keep it safe.
“This is an unusual incident which has occurred in broad daylight in the middle of the afternoon so I would appeal to anybody that witnessed it or with any information about those responsible to come forward.”
The incident took place on October 20 between 3pm and 4pm. Call Lancashire Police on 101 quoting crime reference BB1203964.