I hope everyone had a safe and fun night yesterday! My family and I went to see We Bought A Zoo, which was a pretty good movie. And if you don't know this about me, well, I grew up with a lot of animals on a small ranch. It was not strange to be raising baby goats in the kitchen, with a parrot squawking in the corner and baby chicks in a box in the sink. My childhood was a little less than normal. Anyhow, when the large bear in the movie got loose, I got to thinking about the time when our emu, Curly, made a run for it. So, I'm sharing this little story today from a previous blog post long again (I know it's long, but it's funny!). Enjoy!
Just in case you were ever wondering what it’s like to capture an escaped emu, I thought I’d relate the wonderful experience I had last week (and I haven’t blogged in, well, ages, and am procrastinating all the lovely studying I should be doing).
We have four emu—Larry, Curly, Mo, and Shep. If you’ve ever been around one of these birds, they’re just plain goofy, hence the names. They’re each about 6’ tall, weigh about 100 pounds or so, and have immensely powerful legs. They’re uglier than ostrige, but have the same general motif. They’ve all come to us through our general animal-rescue work. Two of them were dropped off on our property by the sheriff when they started kicking the inmates that were caring for them at the local pound. They apparently didn’t think this might be odd, but whatever. They’re all really tame, allow for petting, whatever. That is, until they escape.
It isn’t like they’re cooped up. We have twelve acres of land that they mostly have the run of, along with the rest of the goats, sheep, peacocks, chickens, etc. etc. But when my lovely husband forgot to shut the gate all the way, well, it was only a matter of time before Curly found his way out.
So, Monday morning, a car came barreling into our driveway, honking, and yelling at us that one of the emu had escaped. Great. Perfect. I had a million other things to do, but I would hate to see the big bird take out a car, so we’re off and running in an instant (and yes, that means I was wearing my pink snowflake pj’s and a hoodie. Attractive.).
The emu was chillin’ in the field across the street, minding its own business. My husband and I managed to get it rounded up, luring it along with a big bucket of food. But we couldn’t get it to cross the street. I will never understand why so many people insist on taking the country roads, and still drive a million miles an hour.
Anyhoot, before long the bumbling animal control people show up. After warning us that if we couldn’t get the emu back in, they’d have to “take care of it.” Yep. That’s the solution all right—shoot the thing. Grr. They were at least helpful in offering their noose-stick things, and we made an attempt to get that around Curly’s neck, with no success, and now the poor guy’s freaked and takes off.
Well, at the brilliant suggestion of the animal control people, we bring out our ATV. My husband, whom I love dearly but wasn’t raised in the country and has a very different way of doing things (hu-hum—the gate—hu-hum), agrees. Anyhow, now my husband starts chasing the thing with the ATV and trying to use the noose-stick to stop the bird so we can jump it and get it back across the street.
Now, some of you might know this, but if not, well, consider it a useless bit of information for the day—emu can run about 40mph on a flat, unhindered surface. Our ATV can get up to about 38mph. See the problem? Yeah. Talk about an exercise in futility. But, we kept at it, thinking that we’d at least tire him out a little and make things easier. At one point, my husband had me on the ATV behind him, using the noose-stick thing while he drove. All that did was give me a good feeling of what it must have felt like to hunt buffalo on horseback. And we were no closer to catching the freaking thing.
After a while, the emu managed to cross another road and get into a large field that, while bare, was plowed into rows that were just a little wider than the ATV axle. And we were back on foot. And Curly won’t let us anywhere near him. The animal control people are standing there, watching my husband and I curse and try to figure out how to catch the bird that can eviscerate you with a well-aimed kick (think of the raptors from
—there’s a reason people think birds descend from dinosaurs). Jurassic Park
Three hours later, we’re three miles from my house. My brother has joined in the chase, ditching school. We have reached one of the large agricultural canals in the area and are forcing Curly down into it, thinking we’ll be able to corner him there. Brilliant, right? Yeah, here’s another useless bit of information—emu’s can swim. I didn’t know that. We’ve had them for ten years, and have never seen them in our canal. But, incase you’re ever chasing an oversized bird and think it won’t swim away from you, well, it will.
Six hours later, we threw in the towel. We were seven miles from our house. We had begged and called everyone in the county who might have a tranquilizer gun. Animal control can’t do it, because it requires some special permit. They can shoot it, but not put it to sleep for a few hours. Another Grrr. But by this time, there’s nothing more we can do. We decide to give Curly some space and try later on in the evening, and maybe he’ll bed down somewhere and we’ll get him then.
And then, while we’re finally dried off and having some breakfast/lunch/dinner, we get a call from animal control. Curly, bless him, has wandered into the backyard of somebody’s rural house. We race over there, and this time, get Curly cornered and loaded into the animal control truck (hey, they had to come in handy sometime…).
The man whose house we’re at starts thanking us profusely for getting the bird off his property. Apparently his wife, who was the one who found Curly, has an extreme, irrational, phobic fear of birds. Curly, all six feet of him, had been looking at her through her windows.
Well, Curly’s back with his friends, happy, healthy, and fine. So, what’s the moral of this story? Close the damn gate!