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Emu saga comes to unfortunate end

An emu that evaded Orange County authorities for months died Thursday during an attempt to capture and relocate the animal to a sanctuary, Orange County Animal Services announced.

“We had hoped for a better outcome,” said Orange County Animal Services Director Bob Marotto, whose office had fed and cared for the bird for weeks and consulted with outside experts to formulate a plan for its capture. “We did all we knew to do. We consulted with zoo experts to determine the best course. Unfortunately, she did not respond to our efforts.”

The plan, developed in conjunction with a board-certified avian veterinarian and two specialists from the N.C. Zoo, who were present throughout the attempt, involved sedating the bird to make it easy to transport it. The bird did not respond to the low dose of sedatives, Marotto said, but eventually suffered an event while being restrained and died. The team tried to revive the bird through CPR but was unsuccessful.

“Everyone is devastated,” Marotto said.

The county made the decision to capture and relocate the bird for its welfare as well as community safety.

“We were concerned it could come out on the roadway and cause an accident or be injured itself, and we were also concerned with the opening of hunting season,” Marotto said. “We didn’t feel leaving it alone was a viable option.”

Orange County Animal Services spokesperson Tenille Fox said the county received its first report of the free-roaming emu in late June. She said no one claimed ownership of the bird, despite widespread publicity.

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