Accidental Zoo’s emu family could grow

BABY emus could soon start running around the Accidental Zoo.

George and Mildred are seven-year-old emus and are an established breeding pair.

One of their young from the spring of this year, named Willow, lives with them at the Le Guilcher family home near Castel Primary School, where the Accidental Zoo was formed.

‘Mildred started laying about three weeks ago and is in a three-day cycle, so she lays an egg every three days,’ Charlotte Le Guilcher explained.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29024926)

‘She lays her eggs in the long grass and she and George carefully cover them with bits of grass to camouflage them.’

The eggs are about 9cm wide, 13cm long and are a rich shade of green.

The Accidental Zoo owner Ryan Le Guilcher with the emu eggs. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29024925)

Unlike a chicken, which will lay an egg regardless of there being a male present or not, emus are extremely unlikely to lay eggs unless mating has taken play, which means that those at the Accidental Zoo already are guaranteed to be fertile.

It will be the male, George, who sits on the eggs, as is the case with all members of the ratite family such as ostriches and rheas.

George and Mildred with the freshly-laid emu eggs at the Accidental Zoo. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29024924)

He will stay for about 60 days to incubate and hatch them.

‘He will then pretty much single-handedly rear the newborn chicks and take care of them,’ Mrs Le Guilcher said.

‘During this time George won’t eat, drink or defecate – he’ll lose a third of his body weight – and will only really move to turn the eggs 10 times a day.’

Emus are not overly protective of their eggs, and Mrs Le Guilcher said George is more interested in flirting with her and her husband when they enter the run than safeguarding the eggs.

George and Mildred with the freshly-laid emu eggs at the Accidental Zoo. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29024923)

‘We are collecting the eggs to keep them safe from predators and when we have enough, we will apply a bit of common sense and give a number of them back to George,’ she said.

‘We will put them in Mildred’s most favoured laying spot as that is where George is most likely to sit on them and make a nest... and then it is just a waiting game.’

Emu eggs have been laid at the Accidental Zoo. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29024922)

The only special care that the eggs need at the moment is to be turned every day to prevent the yolk from sticking to the inner membrane of the shell as this would reduce the chance of the chick being able to hatch and may result in the chick being born with deformities.

While the family do not plan on eating the eggs, it is estimated that a single egg is large enough to make an omelette that would feed six people.

  • Fun facts and regular egg updates are available on The Accidental Zoo Facebook page.

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