Emu captured, moved to zoo

Published 9:56 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Suffolk’s emu saga came to an end on Tuesday when Suffolk Animal Control and Virginia Zoo personnel captured one of the six-feet-tall birds in the King’s Fork area.

At least two emus have been roaming the city since last week, when it is believed they escaped from a local farmer. Citizens captured one of the birds last week, but its comrade eluded its would-be captors — until Tuesday.

“They captured him a lot more quickly than they thought they would,” said Diane Paluzzi, marketing director for the Virginia Zoo. Animal Control and zoo personnel trapped it against a fence by a pool in a subdivision near King’s Fork High School. Paluzzi said residents at the pool reported the emu had been a steady presence there for a week.

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The big bird now is relaxing in quarantine at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, where it will stay for up to 60 days before being introduced to other animals, Paluzzi said.

“Right now, our plan is to keep an eye on it,” she said. “It’s definitely been through a stressful situation. We want to make sure he’s healthy.”

The zoo could end up keeping the bird and placing it on exhibit with the zoo’s other 350-plus residents, Paluzzi said.

“We’d love to be able to keep him,” she said. “We have an emu already and have been wanting more, anyway.”

The bird’s quarantine means only certain keepers will work with it, and it will not be introduced to other animals until quarantine is over. Its diet and behavior will be closely monitored to ensure it is healthy.

“We’re trying not to stress it out by spending too much time with it,” Paluzzi said. “He is definitely a strong emu.”