Matt Garrett has encountered just about every manner of Kansas wildlife in his job with the Johnson County Park & Recreation District.
But the emu found running loose Wednesday at Kill Creek Park in western Johnson County was a new one on him.
“That was pretty interesting,” said Garrett, field biologist for the district.
After the animal was seen Wednesday morning, the park staff “wrangled and herded” the flightless bird into a building. Later Wednesday, Garrett said officials believed they had located a nearby landowner who owned the emu.
The Johnson County emu was not mature, Garrett said.
Mike Martin, secretary of the Kansas Emu Association, said that based on pictures he saw, he believed the bird had been hatched last spring. They are native to Australia and can grow to be 6 feet tall and weigh 100 to 120 pounds, he said.
They are raised for meat, leather, eggs and oil, which can be used to treat burns, abrasions and other skin ailments. Martin said he also takes the oil orally to reduce cholesterol.