Emu named Keith finds forever home after southern Alberta highway stroll

Keith the emu was found wandering near Highway 22X in late June. (Alberta SPCA/Facebook - image credit)
Keith the emu was found wandering near Highway 22X in late June. (Alberta SPCA/Facebook - image credit)

An emu found wandering near a highway in southern Alberta is now settling into his new forever home and will soon join a new mob, the term for a group of these Australian birds.

"He's doing good," Rianna Smyth told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday.

Smyth is with Cobb's Exotic Animal Rescue, an animal sanctuary and adventure park on the northeast outskirts of Calgary.

"I don't know exactly where [the name] Keith came from," Smyth said.

"We put it up to the staff and everybody came up with Keith. It was between Keith and Kevin."

Keith was found near Highway 22X not far from the Red Deer Lake School, south of Calgary, on June 19, a local newspaper reported.

"When he came to us he was quite docile and he still is," she said.

"He's quite friendly. We can hand-feed him, go right up to him. He will match well with most of our [other emus], most of them are pretty calm and pretty docile."

Emus, native to Australia, are most closely related to the cassowary, not ostriches as commonly thought.

They can reach heights of six feet, with Keith measuring five feet nine inches (1.75 metres).

But where did Keith come from?

"Just guessing and no one will know for sure, but some people use emus to guard their property, livestock or even their dogs," Smyth said.

"They are good at keeping away coyotes and other wildlife, so it could have been something like that. Somebody could have had him as a pet. Somebody could have been breeding them for eggs, they have very large eggs. Those are my guesses. They can jump super high and they can run really fast, so he could have been coming from anywhere."

Keith the emu is now loving his forever home in northeast Calgary after being plucked from a southern Alberta highway in late June.
Keith the emu is now loving his forever home in northeast Calgary after being plucked from a southern Alberta highway in late June.

Keith is now loving his forever home on the outskirts of Calgary after being plucked from Highway 22X in late June. (Alberta SPCA/Facebook)

Smyth said Cobb's Exotic Animal Rescue has evolved beyond its modest beginnings.

"We started as a small hobby farm and then we started receiving a lot of rescues organically. So now we house over 300 animals, and about 70 per cent are rescues."

So once Keith is feeling settled, he'll be formally introduced to his new mob of emus — in his new forever home.