Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park

Emu

After the Ostrich, emus are the world’s second-largest bird. Their long, powerful legs allow them to take strides up to 1 metre, and they can sprint as fast as 48 km/h, when necessary.

Their wings are reduced in size with shaggy grey-brown feathers covering their bodies while their bluish shiny necks are nearly bare of feathers. Their sharp claws on their three-toed feet are used for defence. Their amazing eyesight and hearing allow them to detect threats from afar.

Emus are polyandrous: one female engages with more than one male partner. After courtship, they collaborate in nest building. However, after the female lays the eggs, she wanders off, and the male takers over. Dedicatedly incubating the eggs, defending them from dangers, the male spends the entire time barely eating or drinking. After they hatch, father emu looks after the young for around 5 to 18 months, depending on circumstances and need.

Emus inhabit almost the entire Australian continent, and, although solitary by nature, will team up with others and form mobs when migrating.

The emu is called Barrimal in the Wurrundjeri language. Indigenous “customary law” views the emu as a keystone species. When hunted, eggs, meat, feathers and oil are used. It holds great significance in Dreaming as a connection between sky – the “Emu in the Sky” constellation – and Country.