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Monday, August 22, 2011

What would Rod Hull say? Meet the family who share their home with a pet EMU

By Chris Brooke

Like a lot of youngsters she likes to relax in front of the TV and will eat anything in sight.

Beaky the pet emu also quite enjoys a soak in the bath. In fact, the two-year-old bird is almost as much a part of the Newby family as the six children.

She arrived in an unhatched egg, an unusual Christmas present for Ian Newby, 44, from his wife Lisa, 36.

Pecking order: Ian Newby with Beaky and, from left, Harry, Jack, Joe, mum Lisa, Bryce, Peter and George

Now his present is a fully grown emu, weighing 12stone and standing 6ft tall.

Despite her great size – emus are the second tallest birds in the world after the ostrich – she has defied expert opinion by remaining tame and domesticated.

Beaky was born after Mr Newby assembled a makeshift egg incubator.

‘I didn’t really think it would work but, to my astonishment, Beaky hatched,’ said Mr Newby.

Just hatched: Ian Newby and his family getting to know a young Beaky

Cooling off: Iain Newby pictured hosing down Beaky Bill the four-year old Emu which he keeps in his back garden in Southend

‘I put her in one of my children’s old playpens – but after a few months she was already three feet tall and she found she could jump out.

‘Beaky would love running about with the children and playing with the toys. She’s very much a part of the family.’

Because they all grew up together, the couple’s children – Jack, seven, Harry, six, Bryce, five, George, three, Peter, two and Joe ten months – all feel that Beaky is like a sister.

Friends: Iain Newby pictured with Beaky who sits down and watches television with the six foot-tall bird who loves to be a part of family life

And the emu clearly regards Mr Newby as her father and Mrs Newby as a mother.

She eats 14lb of corn a week and about five pounds of her favourite fruit and vegetables, particularly broccoli, peas and cauliflower.

‘She’s just like a dustbin and will literally eat anything the children toss in her mouth.

‘In fact she’ll eat just about anything if allowed to – keys, drill bits, sponges.’

But Beaky has now been banished to a summerhouse in the garden because she is too messy and troublesome to be allowed the run of the family home anymore.

One of her more annoying habits was a tendency to peck and break household items.

However, given the chance, she will quickly sneak back inside to see the children or watch TV.

‘We were told she would become aggressive at about six months, but she is still as tame as ever and the experts think it’s a miracle,’ said Mr Newby.

‘She loves the kids and has never ever pecked one of them, there is not a bad bone in her body.’

The Newby family live in Little Wakering, near Southend, Essex, and also have four dogs, five cats, one parrot and a hedgehog as pets.

The Newby family live in Little Wakering, near Southend, Essex, and also have four dogs, five cats, one parrot and a hedgehog as pets

Looking after an emu at home would be beyond most people as the birds are lively, strong and demanding creatures.

But Mr and Mrs Newby also run a Dangerous Wild Animal Rescue Facility on the site.

Their charity takes in unusual abandoned animals and they look after two crocodiles, snakes, lizards, large tortoises, spiders and macaws.

However, emus – the largest birds native to Australia – are not classified as a dangerous animal in law and Beaky is regarded purely as a pet.

She has already laid 18 eggs – which the family enjoyed eating – and has an 80 square metre pen to run off her energy in.

Mr Newby said he ‘wouldn’t recommend’ raising an emu to the average family.

‘They live 60 years, grow up very strong and not all of them are as friendly as our special Beaky,’ he added.

Iain Newby with his daughter Bryce and Beaky Bill who has an 80 metre pen to stretch her legs in



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