Lion9th August 2020
Zebra9th August 2020
Emus are large flightless birds native to Australia.
The word emu comes from the Portuguese, possibly from the word ‘ema’ used for large birds, or possibly from an Arabic word that Portuguese sailors learned.
Emus have other names in native languages. The Dja Dja Warrung people call them ‘Barrimal’, in Gunai they are ‘myoure’, in Jardwadjali they are called ‘courn’, and the inhabitants of the Sydney Basin call them ‘birabayin’.
Emus are birds so they have all the features you expect. Feathers, beaks, wings, and two legs, they are all just a lot bigger. The emu is actually the second largest bird in the world!
They do not fly though because their wings could not carry them. The wings do still have uses however, they have a claw at the end and the bird still flaps them when running. We think this is for stability as they can run very fast at 48 km/h.
They have long legs and cushioned feet with claws. They kick and scratch at predators to defend themselves.
Once eggs have been laid, the dad looks after them in a nest. He sits on them to incubate and keep them warm for 8 weeks. He doesn’t really move during this time so he can lose lots of weight. Once the eggs hatch the baby emus are looked after by their dad who will raise them for 6 months.
Emus eat seeds, leaves, and insects. What they eat depends on where they are and what is available. In western Australia travelling emus like seeds until the rain arrives, then they eat the new grass shoots and caterpillars.
Indigenous Australians have eaten emus for thousands of years. They do not waste any part of the animal, fat can be used as oil, bones can be made into tools, feathers as decoration and more. Some people still eat emu today.
Emus are not endangered, however some local populations such as those on the island of Tasmania have gone extinct.