June 29 (UPI) — Animal rescuers in Britain are urging residents not to buy exotic pets online after an emu was found to be living in a homeowner’s back yard.
The RSPCA said animal collection officers visited a property near New Forest in Hampshire, England, after a concerned member of the public reported an emu being kept in unsuitable conditions.
The officers discovered the emu, Elvis, was being kept in a backyard enclosure with the resident’s chickens.
The RSPCA said Elvis’ previous owner had purchased the bird as an egg on eBay before the 3-year-old emu came to live with the chickens.
The animal rescue organization said Elvis’ owner agreed to have him transferred to a specialist center in Gloucestershire, where he was offered a new permanent home with a female emu.
“Both birds instinctively ran to each other and now doing really well together. It was lovely to see,” RSPCA Exotics Officer Phil Hamilton said.
The RSPCA said emus, which are native to Australia, are legal to own in Britain, but residents are encouraged to do their research before buying one of the exotic birds.
“Emus can grow to more than 6ft tall and are the second-tallest living bird by height after the ostrich. They can live for up to 20 years and need large outdoor paddocks with a shelter and high fencing to keep them safe — not conditions you can provide in your average home,” said Nicola White, RSPCA senior scientific officer for exotics.