Runaway emu eludes capture — but not attention

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PERRY COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — They call it “he,” but who knows? Maybe it’s a she.

They talk about “the” emu, but rumor has it in some corners there are really two.

No matter the details, he or maybe she — or maybe they — is… or are… the talk of Perry County. Among other places, on a Facebook page called — making up for with accuracy what the name lacks in creativity — Perry County Talk.

But then someone suggested the emu should have its own page. So now it does. There’s a map, too, tracking its whereabouts.

Trouble is, emus can run 30 miles per hour. Dozens of people have seen the emu since it either escaped or was let loose in Loysville — accounts vary, but most agree it’s a sad story about owners who were getting older and sicker — and some have even managed to take photos and video.

But no one has caught the emu.

Pat Seebold is among the people to have seen the celebrity in her midst.

“My husband and the kids and I have been talking about this emu for awhile,” Seebold said. “I’ve been following it on social media.”

Then, one day, there it was — “just plodding along down through the woods,” Seebold said — behind her barn.

How did she feel? How do you think she felt?

“Well I was really excited,” Seebold said. “I wanted to see the emu. I couldn’t believe it had arrived at my house.”

But she wasn’t too star-struck to remember the point of all the attention the emu is receiving.

“There’s been a lot of concern if he would make it through winter, make it through hunting season,” Seebold said.

Indeed, Karen Phillips, a veterinary surgeon and founder of the Hope Haven animal sanctuary near Pittsburgh, said those concerns are well-founded. She said an emu could survive the cold but would be less likely to survive the scarcity of food it’s likely to face.

Phillips also said she’s “obsessed with emus” and “would love to take the emu and help him out and give him a good home” if someone can manage to corral it.

Doing that, of course, is a bird of another feather. But it’s not impossible.

Take Ariel Zevon of Cabot, Vermont, whose emu Wanda escaped last week. Granted, Wanda — Zevon says — is particularly tame and had turned up at a nearby home. But for what it’s worth, Zevon worked with her mother to lure Wanda into a van. Her bait?

“I brought a lot of bananas and cat food,” she said, “because those are some of their favorites.”

Phillips, of the animal sanctuary, said the Perry County emu’s best hope would be to wander into some kind of enclosure, in search of food, and then perhaps someone can shut it in a barn, say, until someone like… well, Phillips… can retrieve it.

Why are emus so “awesome,” in Phillips’s estimation? It’s difficult for her to name just one reason, but one thing she loves is how “they certainly look like dinosaurs. they have a prehistoric look and movement type to them,” she said, with her arm around one of the sanctuary’s emus.

On the other hand, don’t talk to tame emus about social distance.

“The thing I had to get most used to with them is that they have no respect for personal space,” Phillips said. “They’ll come up right into your face, and they’ll just stare at you.”

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