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Emu Goes Rogue In North Carolina, Evading Capture For Nearly A Month


In North Carolina, it is not unheard of for an animal to escape its farm. But they tend to be the kind of animals you might expect.

TENILLE FOX: We usually get pigs, chickens, cows, goats, things like that.

KELLY: Tenille Fox - she's with the Orange County Animal Services in Chapel Hill. And for about three weeks, her office has been tracking down something completely different.



That's not the sound of a pig. It's not someone drumming their fingers on a table. That is an emu. And yes, that's how it's pronounced. An emu is a large flightless bird native to Australia that is not quite as big or fast or scary as an ostrich.

KELLY: But Tenille Fox's wandering emu is about 5 feet tall, about a hundred pounds. And it can run up to 30 miles an hour.

FOX: So he's pretty fast, and he's large. So we're advising caution.

SHAPIRO: Of course, where rogue emus go, local news cameras will follow, danger or no.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: The thing is, every time animal control gets close to the flightless bird, it manages to escape.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: They're elusive.

KELLY: John Brennan of Chapel Hill told TV station CBS 17 he was driving home when traffic suddenly stopped.


JOHN BRENNAN: Then I saw a large bird come across the road. It was in the right-hand side of the road and came toward a car. The car had slowed down. The emu fell down, got back up and then ran off back into the woods.

SHAPIRO: Tenille Fox of Orange County Animal Services says the bird has not been seen since last Thursday. But they've got it narrowed down to roughly a 12-square-mile patch of land.

KELLY: Now, this particular emu probably came from a local farm. And yes, there are emu farms. Fox hoped that news coverage would encourage the owner to come forward and claim it.

FOX: But that has not happened. And certainly, it is a concern that, you know, some members of the public might try to take this situation and, you know, put it in their own hands as far as capturing this emu. And we can't say enough how we hope that that does not happen and we do not recommend that. Please do not try to chase, handle, capture, corral, anything this animal. Please call us.

SHAPIRO: So if you're in the Chapel Hill area and you hear a sound like this off in the bushes...


SHAPIRO: ...Just leave it alone. If it's an emu that can run 30 miles an hour, you're probably not going to catch it anyway. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.