The plight of an Alaskan chicken-hypnotist whose circus tour was cut short in Edinburgh when a charity shop sold her bicycle by mistake has tweaked heartstrings as far afield as Austin, Texas.

Emily Harris left the 1,200-pound ($1,800) bicycle inside the shop this week and found it was missing after she came out of a fitting room. A shop assistant had sold it for 10 pounds.

Now a group of Austin engineers, who read about her loss on the Internet, have raised $525 to help the 25-year-old from Palmer, Alaska, buy a new bicycle and resume her tour.

“There’s been tons of layoffs here, Austin’s been hit pretty hard with the technology sector, so we’re just looking to do something to cheer ourselves up,” software engineer Lawrence Hartley, who started the impromptu fundraising, told Reuters.

Hartley said he and his friends had identified with Harris after reading that her star act consisted of hypnotizing chickens and making them play the piano.

“We’re all pretty much not quite normal. We identify more with a chicken-hypnotist than with the normal world,” he said.

He and his friends have unusual hobbies of their own. One is building a submarine in his garage and several others practice “geo-caching,” a form of treasure-hunting using satellite communications systems.

Harris was thrilled to hear of their efforts on her behalf and said $500 was enough for her to purchase a new bicycle and join her troupe for the rest of their tour of Britain.