Update: Rogue Emu in Delaware Caught, Sent to Ranch - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Update: Rogue Emu in Delaware Caught, Sent to Ranch

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The runaway emu is seen Thursday from Chopper 16. (Photo: Chopper 16) The runaway emu is seen Thursday from Chopper 16. (Photo: Chopper 16)
(Photo: Chopper 16) (Photo: Chopper 16)

TOWNSEND, Del. (AP/WBOC)-  It's said the early bird catches the worm. But Thursday it was the morning petting zoo owner who caught the bird.

An emu has been on the loose just a bit north of Smyrna for two months. And you'd have to be bird-brained to say catching an emu was easy. They can run up to 30 miles per hour.

Guys from 3 palms petting zoo in Clayton have been big part of the emu capture effort. They have experience with emus.

Before Thursday's hunt began, Dan Stonebraker showed WBOC "Elle," the petting zoo's emu.

"She came from a zoo that closed several years ago. She'll live out her days here with us," 

And he talked about previous attempts to catch the escaped emu.

"We'd tried several different approaches. None had obviously been successful," he said. "It has to be very thought out and executed in order to not injure the bird. And that's our primary concern - getting the bird safely."

Importantly, the rogue emu isn't the petting zoo's. In fact, no one is sure whose bird it is.

"We spoke with other emu owners in the area but were not able to identify its home," Dan Shortridge, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Agriculture, told WBOC in an email.

"These animals are available in other states easily without a permit or license. So, it's easy to bring it into our state... It gets lose and you just let it go," said Kevin Usilton, executive director of the First State Animal Center and SPCA in Camden.

Emu excitement has gripped the area for a while.

"It's just not every day that a situation like this occurs. And if it is every day, it's not every day the animal is on the loose for 60-plus days," said Stonebraker.

Monday two elementary schools actually went on lockdown when the emu was spotted nearby. And there were safety concerns about the bird being near roads, too.

Those concerns were laid to rest Thursday when after many tries petting zoo staff and animal control officers finally got their man - or bird.

According to the owner of Square Dog Ranch in Townsend, the emu was captured Thursday afternoon and will be taken to the ranch. The owner tells WBOC that the plan is to place the emu in a stall for the next 48 hours, to calm it down. It's still unclear who the emu belongs to, but the ranch's owner says she is prepared to keep the emu for an extended period of time, if need be.

The emu had eluded police and animal control officers, who were trying to catch it before it wandered into traffic and caused an accident. The Department of Agriculture asked law enforcement to shoot the emu if public safety was at risk, but killing the bird wasn't the preferred solution, Shortridge said. 

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