The Emu Craze

In the 80’s and 90’s the new business buzz was raising emus.  Or as it was called in a Los Angeles Times article by Jess Katz:  “Emus, the Craze That Didn’t Fly”.

He continued, “After a fast start, the idea of selling the big birds as a lowfat food source didn’t get off the ground.  Many Texas ranchers lost their investments.  Now, you can’t even give the creatures away.”

The mania was also called the “Ratite Rage”.  It was a breeder’s dream.  Even when the pairs were selling for $60,000, they could be expected to produce 20 chicks in a year.  But the exotic meat never really caught on.

emuOne of our neighbors down the road has a couple of emus that wander around a field beside the county road.

It is true that some ranchers lost their shirts and couldn’t afford to keep the emus they had invested in, so they turned them loose.  Some of the birds or their offspring appeared on property belonging to someone else and still live there.

emu2The Australian aborigines depended on emus as their main meat source, but we, of course, have lots of choices.  And McDonald sales indicate that we’re not so interested in the low-fat diet.

Emus can be vicious.  Their strong legs are powerful and can knock down a man or other animals or a wire fence.  Their claws can then rip up a person.  They stand 5-6 feet tall and weight 90 – 120 pounds.  Plus, these guys are strong runners with 9 foot strides and a sprint of 30 mph.

emu3Emus survive well in Texas because the heat and sudden temperature drops don’t bother them.  They are extremely hardy.

emu4I think I interrupted the male’s mating posturing with his chest feathers puffed up.  He came to the fence aggressively, so I eased back and retreated with my camera to the vehicle.  He could have just been curious, but I didn’t want to wait around to figure that out.

Exotic and fascinating, but wild.

“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.”
Albert Camus

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