Come to My Emu-Tional Rescue: Big Bird (but not THE Big Bird) Causes School Lockdown

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Just had to share this, a few days late: An emu on the loose in Delaware caused two schools to go into lockdown. As one student told his grandpa, a big bird was outside and police were chasing it, so couldn’t play on the playground.

And they say Americans are getting soft. Here’s the story, from NBC Philadelphia:

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Here’s a picture of the elusive threat:

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Can you believe I caused a lockdown? (Photo by JLplusAL)

You bet I caused a lockdown. And I’d do it again. (Photo by JLplusAL)

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56 Responses to Come to My Emu-Tional Rescue: Big Bird (but not THE Big Bird) Causes School Lockdown

  1. hineata November 17, 2015 at 1:57 am #

    ‘The emu has not taken responsibility ‘…..best line this week!

  2. Peter November 17, 2015 at 2:19 am #

    Hey! Emus can be dangerous! Especially if you give them a paintbrush!

    (Ah, I remember the Hudson Brothers…)

  3. Reader November 17, 2015 at 5:18 am #

    Emus can be kind of dangerous, in a nippy bitey way, not really in a murderous way. But if the emu was actually inside school grounds, more likely they just kept the kids indoors to stop the situation from getting crazy and allowing the bird to be captured without too much street to it and/or the people capturing it.

  4. BL November 17, 2015 at 5:51 am #

    “Fortunately no one was hurt during the incident.”

    Fortunately? You mean, it’s normal for someone to get hurt when birds are near schools? Really?

  5. BL November 17, 2015 at 5:54 am #

    “Officials sent a letter …”

    They should have sent a tweet.

    Tweet. Bird. Get it?

  6. JB November 17, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    BL,
    I’d say it’s, if not normal, then reasonably predictable, that someone might get hurt when police/animal control are trying to subdue a wild animal. Certainly the wild animal won’t care who it tramples, and the police will have legitimate cause to use dangerous weaponry and run around without caring who is underfoot.

    “Lockdown” may be overkill, but “Don’t go outside, there’s a live police pursuit that may move without warning into the school environs” is a very reasonable response.

  7. Vicki November 17, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    About 10 years ago, we a an elementary school go on lockdown because a cow was on the loose running down the streets. It does give the kids a good story to share!

  8. James Pollock November 17, 2015 at 9:00 am #

    We’ve had schools put into lockdown because of bear sightings, and cougar sightings

  9. Doug November 17, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    Large edible bird wandering around two weeks before Thanksgiving.

    I see the problem. I also see the solution.

  10. BL November 17, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    “Certainly the wild animal won’t care who it tramples, and the police will have legitimate cause to use dangerous weaponry”

    Weaponry? It’s an emu, not an ISIS death squad.

    How about some sort of animal control folks (instead of police) who can corral it, not gun it down in cold blood.

  11. Hancock November 17, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    When I was kept inside the school due to a loose animal on the playground, they did not call that a “lock down”, they called it “indoor recess”. No letter reassuring parents of minimal to no casualties needed to be sent home. In fact, any administrator would have been laughed at and had their professionally brought to question for sending a note that said “Emu spotted, recess cancelled today, no injuries reported”.

    One year, a couple large animals got out of the local zoo during a storm that damaged an enclosure, and nearby schools kept the kids in during recess for two days, but again, parents were not given lame notes about how recess was cancelled and no one was injured. It would have made the administrators look stupid. That was over twenty years ago. I guess things have changed.

  12. Buffy November 17, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    Hancock, exactly!!

    Someone above said “more likely they just kept the kids indoors to stop the situation from getting crazy”. If that would have been the case, then they wouldn’t have called it a lockdown nor sent letters to parents.

  13. lollipoplover November 17, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    “In fact, any administrator would have been laughed at and had their professionally brought to question for sending a note that said “Emu spotted, recess cancelled today, no injuries reported”.

    Yes, it must be very emusculating to send such a note home.

  14. lollipoplover November 17, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    My first thought when seeing this story was disbelief that they couldn’t catch a large flightless bird after 66 days.
    My second thought was why don’t schools turn this into a teachable moment for the children: Let them emu watch from a safe distance and make observations. Perhaps these kids could come up with solutions on how to catch an emu (make it a STEM project) and assist law enfocrement and game control with their efforts.

    Instead, they put the kids on lockdown because even though this bird hasn’t attacked anyone in 66 day but anything is possible, especially when kids are involved.

  15. Neil M November 17, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    It’s sad that we have “soft” lockdowns, which implies there are “hard” lockdowns as well. Presumably in a few years we’ll add “business casual lockdowns”, “Katy Perry lockdowns” and “super-duper secure lockdowns.” Good grief.

  16. Doug November 17, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    I’m pretty sure this emu is simply a scout for the mutated avian army about to invade the east coast. Doves the size of a SmartCar, chickens the size of a bus.

    And we were blind to it all, with our free-range poultry and caged parakeets. Little did we know they were spies amongst us the whole time.

  17. Crystal November 17, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    In my small town, we had one of the top FFA programs (Future Farmers of America) in the nation. Think sheep running through the halls every May when the seniors graduated.

    I can guarantee Mr. Ball, the ag teacher, would have turned a loose emu into an opportunity to teach about livestock containment. And then he would have let us catch it. That is, if one of us didn’t grab one of our rifles from our trucks and shoot it first. And I’m only 30 — this wasn’t that long ago!

  18. lollipoplover November 17, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    @Crystal-
    We had much better luck having the neighborhood kids catch our naughty foster dog who would tunnel under our fence and run loose at full speed. Those little kids had better reflexes and were faster than any of us adults who had no chance of catching that dog. I twisted my ankle and peed my pants trying to grab him, yet he went right up to a 6 year-old holding a slice of cheese wagging his tail. Kids are smart and can help!

    @Neil M-
    “Katy Perry Lockdowns” is the best thing I’ve read today.
    I read “Soft Lockdown” like how I order my eggs cooked- “Over Easy Lockdowns”.

  19. Roger the Shrubber November 17, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    With all those cops running around and a wild animal with a history of anti-authoritarian tendencies, I would be worried about the safety of the school children, too.

  20. Shawn D. November 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    I think a “lockdown” was overreacting, but emus are hardly equivalent to a finch, BL. An emu being chased around trying to evade capture would probably be pretty agitated and could injure a child. I don’t see this as a big deal.

  21. david zaitzeff November 17, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    given that an emu can be dangerous when cornered, it was probably reasonable . . . kids with cell phones should have been encouraged or permitted to take photos though . . .

    Oh, an emu can get up to 150 or 160 pounds and that is heavier than I am and heavier than a lot of adult women . . .

    I tend to be a free range thinker, but one question is, if the kids are outside, what happens when one of them approaches the bird to touch or pet it?

    But, given what we know, people could have been 30 or 40 feet away, I think . . .

  22. Reziac November 17, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    I’ve dealt with emus. They are agile, unpredictable, and amazingly adept at both escape and avoiding capture. Emus may be flightless but they have strong feet and claws; a well-placed kick can break bones or even disembowel a human. They can do a sustained run at 30mph and turn on a dime. They’ll see and exploit any weakness in a perimeter. When we had an emu get loose on the ranch, we had a whole crew go after it and never did catch it; two days later we finally had to shoot it (by then it was 3 or 4 miles away).

    The only reason this was an overreaction was that generally an emu will run away from a threat. But I wouldn’t bet my life on that, especially if the emu was somewhat tame. The most dangerous wild animal is one that has lost its fear of man.

    And no, you don’t just let it run off into the wilderness; that’s one cause of invasive species and problems like feral pigs.

  23. Doug November 17, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    Reziac, you can let one loose into the wilderness. It’ll get sad around Valentine’s Day, but nothing worse will come of it.

  24. lollipoplover November 17, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    “I’ve dealt with emus. They are agile, unpredictable, and amazingly adept at both escape and avoiding capture.”

    And don’t forget, they are also AWESOME dancers.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RVZvUJDTUE

  25. BM November 17, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    You laugh at hiding from these birds, but as an Australian I can tell you they are pretty intimidating. As a young child, I was terrified of them at a petting zoo because they will peck and scratch small targets(ie children).
    The tally so far(on one website) is 5 people they have killed by emus. No stats on wounded and maimed.
    They tried to wipe them out with machine guns back in the 30’s. They failed. The emus won the war.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emu_War

  26. Beth November 17, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    I don’t know if anyone’s laughing, exactly. What I’m “laughing” at (not really) is using the term lockdown for this situation, and sending letters to parents. Surely a school can handle something like this without this overreactive terminology, and surely parents can handle it without needing such reassurance.

  27. hineata November 17, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    Thank you, BM, the Emu War was even funnier than the op video clip ☺. Especially the first photo, and the likening of the birds’ military prowess and bravery in battle to the mighty Zulu. I think, in retrospect , that the school lock down was underkill….the army should have been called (ineffective though they may have been!)☺☺.

  28. Jill November 17, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    You can never be too careful. It might have been a man in an emu suit, one who hoped to lure children into his white van with his soft plumage and promises of candy.

  29. andy November 17, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    “Certainly the wild animal won’t care who it tramples, and the police will have legitimate cause to use dangerous weaponry and run around without caring who is underfoot.”

    Police can not use dangerous weaponry and run around without caring who is underfoot to that extend. Maybe except North Korea but not really elsewhere.

  30. James Pollock November 17, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    The school administrators have two options. One is low-risk, no reward, and the other is high-risk, low reward. Absolutely nobody should be surprised this came out the way it did.

    Turning the kids loose while there is an animal on the loose who is capable, however unlikely, of harming one of the children has very little reward (the kids might see an animal they might not otherwise see) with the risk that one or more of the kids might get hurt.

    Keeping the kids inside has no reward at all, but also reduces the chance that any of them gets hurt while in the school’s charge.

    That’s not a complicated choice.

  31. Diana November 17, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    Can they be lassoed?

    Where is Will Rogers when we need him? Or Roy Rogers?

  32. James Pollock November 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    “Police can not use dangerous weaponry and run around without caring who is underfoot to that extend. Maybe except North Korea but not really elsewhere.”

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-08-25/empire-state-building-victim/57297548/1

  33. Warren November 17, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    I don’t know what it is like there, but the use of deadly weapons by the police is not authorized for animal control. All the police can do is stay on site for crowd control, and wait for the Ministry to show up. Where upon arrival will assess whether it is a trap and remove or tranq. and remove scenario.

    The only time deadly force is allowed is when there is a clear, and imminent danger to human life. Property damage is not even reason for deadly action.

  34. Roger the Shrubber November 17, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    ‘police will have legitimate cause to use dangerous weaponry and run around without caring who is underfoot.’

    Using dangerous weaponry, not caring who is underfoot, is not a legitimate use of police force. Common, but not legitimate.

  35. Warren November 17, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    Diana,
    Considering this was Delaware, the emu would have been domesticated and maybe even tame. An adult should have been able to easily get a rope on it.

    Back in our day the janitor and a few of us volunteers would have done it. We did with dogs, and deer in our day.

  36. Katie November 17, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    Is an emu really more dangerous than a helicopter parent in their SUV not carrying if they run over other students so long as the special snowflake gets to their overly tightly scheduled practice?

  37. Beth November 17, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    Well James, much as I hate to engage you, I will say I’m betting it’s possible to keep kids inside without calling it a lockdown.

  38. MichelleB November 17, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    Lockdown? I keep thinking of Jurassic Park and Velociraptors who can open doors. If the bird was on or near school grounds, it makes sense to keep the kids inside.

    According to the people I know who own emus, they’re not nice and friendly and they’re kind of hard to catch.

  39. andy November 17, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    @James Pollock According to article you sent: “after Johnson shot a former co-worker to death and then pointed his pistol at them.”

    That is far from big bird who “won’t care who it tramples” situation. Usage of “dangerous weaponry” in case of shooter who just killed and points a gun at cops is not the same thing as using “dangerous weaponry” on emu in a playground full of kids.

  40. Coasterfreak November 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    Every time I hear about an Emu, I think of Goldie Hawn in Protocol (1984). She shows up late to her job as a cocktail waitress in a bar where all the waitresses have to dress in animal costumes and the only costume left is an Emu costume. She spends the whole shift having to explain that she’s not a chicken or rooster.

    So naturally my mind’s eye sees this whole incident as the police chasing down Goldie Hawn dressed as an Emu.

  41. James Pollock November 17, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

    “According to article you sent: “after Johnson shot a former co-worker to death and then pointed his pistol at them.”
    That is far from big bird who “won’t care who it tramples” situation. Usage of “dangerous weaponry” in case of shooter who just killed and points a gun at cops is not the same thing as using “dangerous weaponry” on emu in a playground full of kids.”

    Nine people were shot who didn’t shoot anyone to death nor point a gun at anyone.

    I think you confused “did the police have a reason to shoot at the person” to which the answer was yes, and “did the police limit their fire so as to shoot the suspect and not anyone else”, to which the answer was no.

    Review the score: Cops 9, bad guy 1. Who was more dangerous?

  42. James Pollock November 17, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    “Well James, much as I hate to engage you, I will say I’m betting it’s possible to keep kids inside without calling it a lockdown.”

    OK. Since you went to the trouble of engaging me… What would be the point of calling it something else? Call it whatever you like.

  43. Rook November 17, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    Having worked with emus, I can see some cause for concern. The kicks and pecks can be painful, and probably particularly uncomfortable on a smaller being like a kid. Not to mention as an animal the emu might get spooked if a bunch of squealing kids came running up to see a really cool looking bird, so it might have been in the bird’s best interest as well. A formal lockdown is ridiculous, but it wouldn’t have bothered me if my kid had been kept indoors or allowed outside with a few extra adults standing guards. If done in a sensible and not over-emotional manner.

  44. Barry Lederman November 17, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

    Quoting BL “They should have sent a tweet. Tweet. Bird. Get it?”

    Got it. This was a real funny line. Well done BL.

  45. Brooke November 18, 2015 at 1:19 am #

    If this happened in the Southern part of the state a kid would have hog tied it before it got away lol.

  46. andy November 18, 2015 at 2:44 am #

    @James Pollock “I think you confused “did the police have a reason to shoot at the person” to which the answer was yes, and “did the police limit their fire so as to shoot the suspect and not anyone else”, to which the answer was no.”

    Whether police have to wait till NYC gets empty before firing at active shooter has nothing to do with whether police can use “dangerous weaponry” on emu in presence of kids. The emu would not be pointing gun nor shoot on anybody. You risk bruises and fall with emu and only if you are neat, it wont shoot people at distance.

    “Review the score: Cops 9, bad guy 1. Who was more dangerous?”

    Anyone who see the two above situations as similar. Which would make it you.

  47. hineata November 18, 2015 at 3:43 am #

    @Andy – sorry, I know you’re being serious, but I can’t help remembering the scene in Crocodile Dundee when a kangaroo starts shooting back at hunters. And, as we know from the Great Emu Wars, emus are skilled guerrilla fighters. Who knows what weaponry they have stashed away, in the super secret ECC (Emu Command Centre) ? ☺

  48. sexhysteria November 18, 2015 at 5:34 am #

    The emu at our local zoo is known to be a downright terror to children’s health and safety.

  49. andy November 18, 2015 at 5:45 am #

    @hineata I googled Emu Wars expecting funny movie and …. was surprised to find it was real event. Apparently, reality is more creative then fiction.

    The machine-gunners’ dreams of point blank fire into serried masses of Emus were soon dissipated. The Emu command had evidently ordered guerrilla tactics, and its unwieldy army soon split up into innumerable small units that made use of the military equipment uneconomic. A crestfallen field force therefore withdrew from the combat area after about a month.

    After the withdrawal, Major Meredith compared the emus to Zulus and commented on the striking maneuverability of the emus, even while badly wounded.

    If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world… They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks. They are like Zulus whom even dum-dum bullets could not stop.

    Maybe that is why they went into lock down 🙂

  50. mer November 18, 2015 at 6:37 am #

    I think everyone missed the point:
    It was a male emu, with a camera. That was the reason for lockdown. A female emu would have been no problem.

  51. James Pollock November 18, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    “Whether police have to wait till NYC gets empty before firing at active shooter has nothing to do with whether police can use “dangerous weaponry” on emu in presence of kids.”

    Duh?

  52. Warren November 18, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    Best way to have handled this. Just cancel outdoor recess but have the students go to rooms with views, and let the watch and take pictures of their visitor.

  53. bob magee November 18, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    @hineata

    That Emu Wars event was great reading

    Thanks

  54. hineata November 18, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    @Andy – isn’t the picture the best?! I couldn’t help imagining that face leaping out at me from behind a tree – I’d go into orbit

    @Warren – amen!

    @James – English is only one of at least two, probably more, languages that Andy speaks and writes. So it’s not his first one…..get over yourself and stop being so ignorant. The meaning is there.

  55. hineata November 18, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    @bob – thanks, but I can’t take credit….it was BM who brought it to our attention further up the thread. I just ‘ran with it’ ….like I was being chased by militant emus ☺.

  56. bob magee November 18, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    @BM

    Thanks for Emu wars link.