Katey and her husband Robert are sheep farmers who also breed racehorses in Australia. At the beginning of last December she wrote this about a new kind of pet that had joined the family:
About 2 months ago Robert came home with 2 emus. Both were only about a day old and were unable to do much or go far without falling in a heap. So they came home. We have cages we put ewes into when they won’t feed their lambs. They are 5 foot long, 2 foot 6 inches wide and 3 foot high. Fully enclosed in fine netting with a sleep or shaded half and lift up roof. We put the 2 little emus into a cage.
Not knowing really what emus eat we cut up silver beet, lettuce, oats etc. Overnight the first one disappeared. Don’t know how, it just vanished. Cages are cat and dog proof but maybe not emu proof. Chirpy stayed. He has now gone out into a cage 12 foot in diameter, with 5 foot net walls and his sleeping box is with him. He is 3 foot tall and loves to talk to either me, cats, dogs or Robert. He eats in one day: 20 leaves silver beet, 2 complete lettuce, 1/4 kilo dog nuts, 125 grams parrot food, 125 grams peas and the same in beans, 4 slices white bread, plus many handfuls of grass and weed he can get. He now also grazes in his new yard. He has started doing a few tricks. He jumps in the air and kicks out like a Thai boxer with his one leg. He rolls on his back and kicks his legs in the air and he growls like a dog. He really is a silly mixed up emu and is only about 8 weeks old. We are hoping eventually to be able to let him out of his enclosure, but I have visions of a 6 foot emu kicking down the screen door, racing into the lounge and jumping up to sit on my lap. But I do love him.
I asked if there were any photos, but Katey has a very busy life with her family commitments and running the farm, so I hadn’t heard any more about Chirpy until this recent comment:
My emu thinks he is a horse and is now living with the geldings, but comes home every second day for his dish of dog nuts.
Escoffier said “You are what you eat,” so maybe Chirpy’s very varied diet, including parrot food, dog nuts, grass and weeds, has something to do with his inability to decide what kind of animal he really is. All the same, I think he’s living proof that an identity problem doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be miserable.