Plan hatched for sex-starved Aussie bird

By Tara Ravens

KATHERINE - A cunning plot has been hatched to find a mate for a sex-starved emu looking for love in all the wrong places.

Edward the emu hit the headlines last month when his owner, Patrena Arriston, broadcast an appeal for help to stop her much loved pet's amorous advances.

The Katherine woman figured it was time for the seven-year-old emu to find a mate after he sat on an empty nest and frantically tried to round her up whenever she entered his pen.

"Blow me down, I'd never seen him like that, I had to get in the middle of that trailer there and yell out," she said from her property about 300km south of Darwin.

"I was concerned, he was aggressive, circling me and trying to round me up."

She quickly realised her randy pet had hit puberty.

"A female normally drops the eggs around the paddock and then the males gather them all together and they sit on them. That's their job...," Ms Arriston said.

"He sat on nothing for seven weeks, poor thing. It just broke my heart. And I said I'm not letting that happen again. I want him to know what being a normal emu would be like."

Her plea for help was answered by Lew Farkas, the owner of a remote NT roadhouse promoted as one of the world's UFO hotspots.

Lew had five emus and was happy to give Edward a helping hand.

While the matchmakers overcame the initial problem of transporting the lucky lady the 800 kilometres from Wycliffe Wells to Katherine, they hit another snag: Lew discovered he only had one female emu.

"Out of the five he had only had one female so of course he didn't want to lose that one," Ms Arriston said.

But an emu farm in NSW came to the rescue, sending her six eggs, two of which have already been hidden in Edward's pen.

"He'll go to them, realise what they are and he should sit on them," she said.

"Once he sits on those two eggs we get the other four out of the fridge and then we'll put them underneath him and he'll stay on them until they hatch.

"We've got a 60 per cent chance two or three will hatch, if not we'll be having a really big omelette."

Mrs Arriston acquired Edward as a 50th birthday present seven years ago, when he was only two days old - a moment she described as "love at first sight".

"He would sit beside my bed and as soon as it became daylight that was it, he would never leave my side, he'd follow me everywhere."

Asked is she was bemused by all the media attention, Mrs Arriston said the lonely plight of Edward, who is covered in shaggy brown feathers and almost 2m tall, was reminiscent of the world-wide struggle to find love.

Now Edward just needs to find the eggs, sit on them for 56 days, hope one is a lovely lady ... and then wait 18 months for her to mature.


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