The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday September 19th

Why do bad things happen to good emus? Beloved Orange County bird dies

Students and community members gathered on Sunday night for a vigil to remember Eno the emu.
Buy Photos Students and community members gathered on Sunday night for a vigil to remember Eno the emu.

Orange County's most famous wild animal died Thursday. 

According to a press release from the county, Orange County Animal Services' attempt to capture and relocate the emu to a sanctuary resulted in its death.

After caring for and feeding the bird for months, OCAS decided to plan for its capture.

Bob Marotto, director of Orange County Animal Services, said that they collaborated with a board-certified avian veterinarian and two specialists from the North Carolina Zoo on their plan to sedate and capture the bird before transporting it. The veterinarian and specialists were present for the attempted capture. 

The bird did not respond to the low-dose sedatives, but "eventually suffered an event while being restrained and died," Marotto said in the press release.

“We did all we knew to do," Marotto said. "We consulted with zoo experts to determine the best course. Unfortunately, she did not respond to our efforts.”

The emu was first spotted in Orange County in June, and had been at large since. Over the past four months, the emu became famous in the community, and residents even nicknamed the creature, "Eno the Emu."

Community members immediately took to Facebook and Twitter, posting memorial messages and images of roses. 

Emus are the largest bird in their native country of Australia and the second-tallest bird in the world. They're most closely related to ostriches.

Out of concern for the welfare of the bird and community members, the county made the decision to capture and relocate the bird.

“Everyone is devastated,” Marotto said in the release.

Marotto said with hunting season approaching and risk for injury to the bird or residents in the county, they had to do something. 

“We didn’t feel leaving it alone was a viable option," Marotto said.

Ran Northam, community safety communications specialist for the Town of Chapel Hill, said the Town had no involvement with the efforts to contain the emu. Northam said Orange County Animal Services handles the entire county, including the municipalities within. 

"We’re terribly sorry to hear about the death of what became such a well-loved member of our wildlife," Northam said.

Assistant City & State Editor Michael Taffe contributed reporting to this article.


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