Betty the emu is back in the birdhouse

Runaway rush hour emu back with her owners in Barnstaple.

BETTY the escaped emu is back home with her relieved family after causing unexpected commotion in the centre of Barnstaple.

Bemused residents called the police just after 8am on Wednesday of last week when they spotted the 4 ft tall bird running loose in St Georges Road.

PCSO Steve Huxtable and PC Zoe Parnell arrived and managed to bundle her into the back of a police car before she was collected by Diana Lewis of North Devon Animal Ambulance.

The drama soon went nationwide, with television and newspapers across the country picking up the story.


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The first Emma Jeffery knew of it was when someone called her Newport hair salon to say ‘your emu has been arrested’.

In fact five-and-a-half month old Betty is not some exotic zoo escapee, but along with her brother Reg is a pet of the Jeffery family in nearby Heppenstall Road.

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The police had tried to contact the family but everyone had been at work or school when they phoned and it subsequently took the anxious Jefferys several hours to find out where Betty had been taken.

Now she is back in her paddock with Reg and slowly recovering her composure after being away from the only home she has ever known.

The pair were hatched on the day of the Queen’s Jubilee, hence their names. Two emus might seem unusual pets, but no licence is required to keep them. The Jefferys are a big family and because they have a little land, Emma said they had grown up taking on pets of one form or another.

“I think in the wild emus might be dangerous to people, but these have been hand-reared and that is all they know,” she said.

“They are extremely friendly and better behaved than our dogs - they actually go out for walks with the dogs and lie down with them.

“We are not sure how she escaped. We think one of the children might have left the gate open but we really don’t know.”

While Betty was missing Reg was almost as stressed, pacing up and down in their pen. Emma said when Betty returned she was quite disorientated, was nervous and kept bumping into things.

“I think that was the shock,” she said.

“She settled down overnight, although she wanted to sleep very close to the house, but she is back to normal again now. She is still a little bit jumpy, but that is to be expected.”

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