New York. Emmanuel, the emu, is a household name in the United States. When he was supposedly sick with bird flu, the whole country cheered. When his illness turned out to be purely a stress reaction, the relief was great. “The tiktok emu was just stressed,” the “New York TimesLate October – a paper you wouldn’t necessarily expect to deal with emu ailments.
But Emmanuel is a star and people write about celebrities. The “Washington Post” interviewed him or his well-known “mistress” in July and even the famous “tonight show‘ with Jimmy Fallon couldn’t avoid inserting an emu program. Not only thanks to Emmanuel, the large ratites from Australia are now so popular in the USA that many simply want to keep them as pets.
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But now more and more farmers and experts are speaking out, warning that the birds can be a fire hazard. Tammy Shull, the owner of Moonlight Valley Farms in Aspers, Pennsylvania, who makes a living from selling emu chicks, told the Australian edition of “Guardians‘ that people need to stop buying them because they look cute on social media right now.
Come on the emu
through the viral videos Many have become aware of emus and their escapades and many people would now buy them “on a whim”, said the farmer. Very few would really research what they are getting themselves into. The flightless ratites, originally from Australia, can grow over 1.60 meters tall, weigh between 30 and 60 kilos and have sharp claws and a pointed beak.
Especially during the breeding season, the birds can develop quite a temperament. They also reach quite an impressive age – in captivity they can live up to 40 years and are therefore definitely a long-term commitment.
Shull also warned that emu behavior can be quite volatile. Some emus would respond very positively to humans and behave well, but once they’re fully grown, hormones would occasionally kick in and some emus would “literally change overnight,” leaving owners wondering, “What about Happened to my sweet and tame emu?”
Todd Green, a postdoctoral fellow at the New York Institute of Technology who studies emus and used to own one named Dog, told the Guardian that you can compare the emu craze to stories of people buying baby alligators without it to consider that they would eventually grow up and become dangerous. “Most emus don’t want to be touched on the head or cuddled,” he said. Some are very docile and friendly, but not all. “They’re very strong animals and if you’re not careful, they can kick and break your bones.”
In the Emu War, the emus were victorious
Every child in Australia – where they live in the wild – knows that emus are not to be trifled with. In 2018, for example, the birds made headlines when flocks of them overran the outback town of Broken Hill after years of dryness and drought. At that time, emus strolled along the main street in the middle of town, they stopped in front gardens and pecked around in the local park. Wherever there was fresh grass and water, the starving birds cavorted.
At the time, the situation got so out of hand that some social media users were already reminded of the “great emu war” of the 1930s. Back then, flocks of emus destroyed entire crops and were then hunted down in a military operation. However, the action failed because the hunters of the time also had to realize that the powerful ratites were not so easy to get hold of.
Incidentally, emus are not the only dangerous ratites native to the fifth continent. The cassowaries are also considered very dangerous. Their claws can easily slash and kill a human. However, unlike emus, they have become rare in the wild, so it would be more fortunate to see one outside of a zoo.