Search continues for lost emu's owner

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SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. - The hunt continued Thursday for the owner of an emu found wandering loose in Deer Hollow in Sarasota Wednesday. Sarasota County Animal Services says it has gotten a lot of calls from people concerned about the fate of the flightless bird.

It says that if it can't find the emu's home it will have no trouble finding it a new one. “It's kind of hard to dump something big like that, but it could be that someone got it and it got to be too much, and they just let it go,” says Tami Treadway, supervisor of Animal Services

Some things she has learned about this bird native to Australia but now common in the U.S., including that it will eat apples and citrus. “There's a lot of resources on Google,” Treadway says. “And we called a couple of rescue groups too to ask what we'd feed it in the interim.”

Animal Services gets calls to deal with many kinds of exotic animals, but has never had to take possession of an emu. And the big bird, more than five feet tall fully extended, has become an attraction even among staff members. It seems to favor the corner of its enclosure closest to the barking dogs, and seems sure enough of humans that it must have been someone's pet. “I'm sure it was, because he was used to being hand fed, and we've been able to approach him. normally they would come at you or try to run,” Treadway says.

You can legally own an emu, and if the owner of this one comes forward, he or she faces no trouble, just advice on how to secure it better. If it cannot find the owner, Animal Services will not let someone adopt it, even though most of the calls about it from all over the country come from people who want to. “Yeah, everybody's got good intentions but they have no idea what it costs, or the resources you have to have to have one of these birds,” Treadways says.

Instead, the bird will go to a rescue group in the area that can care for it adequately.