Hometown Tales Podcast

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Run! There’s an Emu loose!

There was an emu running loose in Clay Township, Ill. It had been evading animal control officers, cops, and bird watchers for days.

Go ahead and laugh while you can. Because if you’re ever cornered by one of these flightless birds native to Australia, you’re toast! The emu is a viscous beast that needs to be feared by all. Its talons can disembowel you so fast your steaming guts will hit the pavement before you recall that your dad used to once own a tin of shoe shine with this bird as the logo … oh wait, that was a kiwi: the flightless bird from New Zealand.

Clay Township isn’t the first. The police department of Jersey’s own West Milford Township called an APB [All Points Bulletin] for officers to be on the look out for an emu that escaped from Jungle Habitat.

You remember Jungle Habitat, right? Jungle Habitat was America’s first drive-thru African Safari with real and real dangerous animals. Animals that, like the emu, but mostly those foul red-assed baboons, escaped and terrorized the town all the time. Think seeing an African Dik Dik in your yard is odd? It gets real strange in 1976 when Warner Brothers [the owners] unexpectedly, suddenly closed Jungle Habitat.

Legend says that Warner Brothers and the zookeepers just walked away, letting the animals roam free in the wilderness. This urban legend is partly true. They did in fact let loose some wild animals: birds and African deer than could easily live in the woods outside of West Milford. The drawback to this plan became apparent when hunters shot one of these exotic African deer. As far as the sharp-toothed, like-to-eat-you animals, those were not let loose. The tigers, lions and vicious emu were shipped to other zoos.