An emu that vaulted to stardom on social media after running around the city of Prince George, B.C., is once again on the lam after being captured at the local airport and later vaulting its way to freedom.
The origins of the giant bird are unknown, as are its motivations for making its way to the airport, though several commentators have speculated it might have something to do with its inability to fly on its own. However, the emu was seen running alongside a train and spotted in an industrial section of town Monday morning before makings its way to fields surrounding the airport where it was briefly captured before making its escape a second time.
Prince George Airport Authority community relations manager Chrisie Berry spent her morning working on a plan to trap the bird by monitoring Facebook posts tracking its movements.
“We did quite a bit of calling around,” she said. “We started with your typical animal control operations … but they were not comfortable dealing with an emu.”
Berry then started calling livestock veterinarians for advice, and one of them directed her to the Blackspruce Farm which has a petting zoo and offered to pick up the bird if no one else could help.
Brent Meise, who runs Blackspruce, said the call from the airport was probably “about the 40th” message he’d received that day from people monitoring the bird’s location.
“We do have a couple emus … so people thought it was ours,” he said.
Unable to get in touch with anyone else who could help, Meise loaded up his horse trailer and shepherded the emu inside.
“He made it look really easy,” Berry said.
Once on the road, though, Meise said the emu started kicking at the back of the trailer, trying to escape.
Meise keeps his own emus in a specialized pen but said the birds are territorial, so it wouldn’t be safe to introduce one in a panicked state to a new environment, especially without getting a vet check for communicable diseases first.
“So we put in the horse corral, which was not very effective,” he said.
The emu managed to hook its foot on the bottom rung of the corral and used it to launch itself to freedom a second time.
Meise is actively watching Facebook pages for the bird, which he’s dubbed ‘Dora the Explorer,’ (although he determined it to be male) but said it’s very easy for it to survive on its own in the woods, especially over the summer months living on wild plants and bugs, covering long distances in short periods of time.
He said there was one sighting a few blocks from his property on Monday night but by the time he got there, the bird was already gone.
“We don’t know where he is.”