Rescued 6-foot emu and feisty donkey are in love, creating trouble for NC shelter

The mule and the emu enjoy some quality time together at Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, where they share an enclosure.
The mule and the emu enjoy some quality time together at Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, where they share an enclosure.

A boy donkey and a girl emu have apparently fallen in love, and their relationship has created a problem for one of Charlotte’s best known animal shelters.

The odd pair – emus are similar to ostriches – are so closely bonded that they’re refusing to leave each other’s side, says Jennifer Gordon of Carolina Waterfowl Rescue outside of Charlotte.

“They like to cuddle and even sleep together,” Gordon told The Charlotte Observer. “We can’t separate them, so we need someone who is willing to adopt both a donkey and an emu. That may not be easy.”

Rescuers made the mistake of trying to separate them – once.

The 5-foot-5 donkey “started crying” and the 6-foot-tall emu “got frantic” and paced around like an expectant father, she says.

They’re now being kept in the same enclosure, as they await an adoption that she predicts will likely never come.

How did this affair happen? Loneliness, Gordon guesses.

The emu and the donkey had been “comforting each other,” possibly for years, on a few acres in Kershaw, South Carolina, when the owner suddenly vanished last week, she says.

The two were left behind, along with a bunch of dogs, cats and chickens, she says.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue took in the animals on Monday, with the intention of finding homes for all of them.

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Gordon fears the rescue operation will have to keep the donkey and emu indefinitely. The site already has three other donkeys, but it turns out the newly arrived donkey doesn’t like them, she said. “He’d rather be with the emu,” she says. “When we put him in with the other donkeys, he attacked them.”

A campaign has been launched on Facebook to name the pair and try to raise money for their food and medical bills. Nearly 100 names have been suggested since Monday, Gordon said.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, a nonprofit, is in the midst of raising $150,000 to move from its current 11-acre site to a 50-acre farm near Waxhaw where larger animals can be kept.

To contact the shelter, call 704-668-9486.

Watch and listen as red wolf pups at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C. learn to howl from their parents and learning to howl at age 7 weeks.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs