NEIGHBOURS got more than they bargained for when a fugitive emu cropped up on their quiet street.

The brown-feathered runaway was on the loose in Combe Florey last week - and was held hostage in somebody's garden over night.

Neilson Smith couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the giant bird - usually found in its native Australia rather than Somerset - roaming around his street before it hopped over his fence.

But police officers ruffled its feathers when they cornered it on Friday (December 7) afternoon.

Mr Smith, of The Combe, said: “It was getting stressed and I wouldn't have been surprised if it jumped back over the fence and escaped.

“My neighbour called me up and said 'look out your front window, there's something strange'. So I asked him if it was an army tank or something, and when I looked out it was an emu.

“It was well and truly on the loose. Police were guarding it in the garden but I don't think having patrol cars around an emu is what they're paid to do.”

The flightless bird was contained by police while the owner was tracked down.

But the Smith household had a new addition for the night when its owner asked for a charitable favour.

Mr Smith added: “The police station called and they had established who the owner was but asked us to keep the bird until the owner could collect it.

“They phoned Friday evening and asked us to keep the emu until Saturday morning. It was collected in the morning with no ill effects.”


  • Emus used to fall under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.
  • The bird, native to Australia, is the second largest in the world, behind the ostrich.
  • They are flightless and can reach up to two metres in height.
  • An emu can reportedly reach speeds of up to 43mph.