Runaway Emu Causes Lockdown at Delaware Schools

Drew Hurst told NBC10 he didn’t know what to think when his grandson told him a giant bird caused a lockdown at Spring Meadow Early Childhood Center in Townsend, Delaware. 

“You weren’t allowed to go play in school because a giant emu was running around in your playground and it was being chased by police?” Hurst asked.

“Uh huh,” his grandson replied.

It turns out his grandson was right. A runaway emu was spotted nearby Spring Meadow as well as Old State Elementary School Monday leading to a “soft lockdown” at both schools. Officials sent a letter alerting parents and informing them that students remained inside the building while normal activity continued. Fortunately no one was hurt during the incident.

The emu, which officials believe is an escaped pet of an owner who has yet to claim it, has been on the loose in Delaware for months, eluding police and animal control officers.

“I am getting frustrated,” said Dan Stonebraker who runs the 3 Palms Petting Zoo in Clayton, Delaware. “Yesterday we were out there for a few hours and we got closer than ever. We had our hands on it, physically, twice.”

Officials say shooting the bird with a tranquilizer is a last resort and have been trying to safely capture it. Stonebraker said emus are relatively safe unless they’re cornered. Officials warn residents not to get too close or threaten the emu due to its sharp talons.

Officials believe the emu can survive the upcoming Delaware winter but they’re trying to capture it soon before it wanders off into traffic and causes an accident.

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