A large stag has been locked in a park overnight after spending its third day on the loose near Croydon town centre.

People have been warned to stay out of Park Hill recreation ground for their own safety and to protect the red deer, which made its way to the town along nearby railway tracks.

Police and the RSPCA sent officers to the park this morning, although the red deer was reportedly first sighted on Wednesday.

Network Rail are understood to have opened a gate to allow the deer into the park after it was spotted on a steep bank near East Croydon station.

The gates of the recreation ground, which is surrounded by busy roads and residential streets, have been locked to contain the stag and keep the public out.

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The stag takes a peek at his observers (photo: Ivo Petya Delgyanski) 

Croydon Council said it was in discussions with a deer farm about relocating the stag and that the park would remain shut "until further notice".

Intrigued observers have been drawn to the park's gates to try to catch a glimpse of the deer.

Robert Rudman, 40, brought four-year-old son Donovan to see the animal this afternoon.

He said: "My dad told us about it so we thought we'd come and have a look. It's fascinating.

"How it got here I have no idea, but it's magnificent to see."

The council erected notices on park gates warning people to stay out and to keep dogs on leads.

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One of the signs said: "A large red deer is loose in the park. For your safety and the welfare of the animal do not enter the park nor attempt to get close to the deer. It is a wild animal and should not be approached."

It added: "The deer arrived safely of its own accord  and in time will leave safely. We will do all we can to keep him safe."

The stag had been distressed by people trying to take pictures of him, a council spokeswoman said this morning.

Wild deer are often sighted in the grassy southern fringes of Croydon, but it is rare for one to venture so close to the town centre.

Have you seen the deer? Call the newsdesk on 0208 822 7351 or email chris.baynes@london.newsquest.co.uk