Posted on Jan 07, 2015
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
Last month, there was an emu loose in Santa Clarita. Animal control was called and after two hours they were finally able to catch him and bring him to the shelter. After several weeks, no one came to claim him or adopt him. Finally, the shelter called us and asked if we would take him.
We used to have an emu at The Gentle Barn named Yoda who was wonderful. Yoda would fall asleep in our arms when we would pet his fluffy head. He was so cool looking: orange eyes, huge dinosaur feet, and millions of tiny fluffy feathers. Yoda was a fan favorite among the at-risk kids we hosted. Yoda looked so menacing, yet once you got to know him, he was kind and gentle. Many of the teens we worked with knew what it was like to be judged and thought of as tough or bad, yet underneath they were all like Yoda - sweet, gentle souls. We had people all over the world who came to meet Yoda and lull him to sleep.
We rescued Yoda from a hoarder many years ago. Because birds have no teeth, it is near impossible to tell their age, so we had no idea how old Yoda was. A few years ago, he got very ill suddenly. We rushed him to the hospital but by the time we got there he was in critical condition and the vets could not save him. It was a devastating loss and the barnyard has seemed empty ever since. Even though we could never duplicate Yoda, the thought of having another emu made us so happy! So we hitched up our trailer and went to bring him home.
Female emus make a loud, booming, drumming noise while males make a growling noise like a pig. It didn’t take us long to know for sure that this emu was a boy because he started making the tell-tale piggy noises as soon as we got him home. Our vet suggested he be in quarantine until the end of January. So… unfortunately, he hasn’t met the rest of the family yet. However, there has been much talking back and forth between the emu and the rest of the animals and I know they will be the best of friends once quarantine is over.
Like chickens and turkeys, emus need a variety of fresh fruits and veggies to eat every day. We have been giving him cranberries, greens, bananas, and assorted berries. His favorite so far has been cherry tomatoes. He does not seem to like being pet, but he is slowly getting used to the idea. He sticks his head out of the window of the barn and I can pet his fancy blue neck. Emus are from Australia originally and are cousins to the African Ostrich. It’s not every day that you meet an emu, so come on by The Gentle Barn any Sunday from 10-2 and help us give him a warm welcome.
Written by Ellie Laks
Founder, The Gentle Barn