Last week I was driving home after picking the kids up off the bus. We were about half way when I saw something on the middle of the road ahead. As we approached, I could see that it was a family of emus, hit by a car or truck. They were all dead, with the exception of one little emu chick, who stood, possibly in shock, amidst the bodies of its dead family.
I slowed the car to a standstill and told the kids to sit still while I thought about what to do. CP was going to be VERY angry if I took the emu chick home. After three good seasons in a row, emus seem to be in semi-plague proportions out here at the moment. They compete with livestock for food and water, and can be aggressive at times. I wasn't even sure if I could actually pick it up, let alone put it, somewhere, in our car. On the other hand, I couldn't leave it where it was. I just couldn't. There is something about seeing such a tiny creature so vulnerable that really pulled on my heart strings. My heart broke for this tiny bird, and so I made a decision to take it home.
I approached it slowly. It stood very still. It would have been up to my knee in size, but seemed so small, and so precious. I edged closer and closer until eventually it was within my grasp, and then I reached out quickly, grabbing it around its body. I held it out so that its claws couldn't scratch me, and I hoped and prayed it wouldn't bite me.
When I reached the car, the kids (my kids) were in a panic. They were emotional about the family of birds that lay dead on the road, and nervous about what would happen to the baby emu. I opened the back door of our Toyota Prado (our NEW car), and placed the chick on the floor of the vehicle. By now my own children were FREAKING OUT. I didn't have a towel or anything to put him on, so I just made an effort to concentrate on getting home with as little dramas as possible. The baby emu had pooed on my shirt and jeans, and there was a mix of blood on there as well. I asked the kids to check on the bird, and Olivia started yelling that there was a cut on its foot, and that it was 'bleeding everywhere'! I didn't say anything, but remember thinking that I hoped the blood wouldn't permanently stain the carpet in the back of the car.
I tried to think of what on earth I was going to do with the emu chick once we were home.
When we did eventually make it home, I tried to find CP. Once he heard what it was I needed help with, he disappeared quickly, muttering something about me being crazy and stupid and irresponsible. I found a large esky and placed an old towel inside it. I placed the baby emu gently inside and then held the lid open a fraction with books. The emu didn't want to go anywhere. It was still clearly in shock. We found water, and placed it in with the bird, but it didn't drink.
Meanwhile, I was on the phone to Australia Zoo. I had reached the Wildlife Rescue department and was trying to explain what had happened, as well as emphasise that I couldn't possibly keep the emu for a multitude of reasons, but was happy to do whatever I could to ensure it would survive. I also called our local vet, who gave me the number of a woman in a nearby town who might possibly be able to care for it. I called her whilst Australia Zoo went looking for someone who could help me. The lady in the nearby town, Mary, said that as it so happened, she was headed to Miles the following day, where she was meeting an Australia Zoo rep, and she would be happy to take the emu chick if I could meet her in her town early the next morning. Australia Zoo then called back to certify that Mary was legitimate, and that she would indeed help get the emu (eventually) to Australia Zoo.
So now I just had to keep the emu alive until the next morning. I wrapped a bandage around his sore leg, and hoped that it wouldn't get infected. At least then I could monitor the amount of bleeding (which I didn't think was as bad as I had initially thought). When CP came home he brought chicken pellets with him for the emu chick. We talked about all the reasons why this emu couldn't be our new pet. As much as its cuteness was winning us all over.
Before we went to bed, I placed a hot water bottle inside the esky with the baby emu. It snuggled up next to it, and I hoped for the best.
The next morning, I prepared a new box to carry the emu in. It seemed in much better spirits than the night before.
I drove the baby emu to Mary, and she took charge of him after that. I said goodbye to the chick, and was a little sad that I might not ever hear anything about it ever again.
I needn't have worried.
A week later, Australia Zoo contacted me via a picture I'd uploaded (and tagged) on Instagram, stating that "the baby emu was alive and well in the animal hospital, learning to peck and eat with a chicken. There will be a story on him/her on either the Australia Zoo or Wildlife Warriors page in a few days!"
I could have done a little dance.
So here is the link to the story.... (They have called him/her Elmo).
I am one very proud person at the moment!