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Loose emu captured in Lower Richland: Social media tells the story

The posts on Facebook and TikTok are in a word, hilarious.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — It's certainly the kind of call that, as a sheriff's deputy, you don't forget and one 'fowl' story you don't mind telling again and again. 

When Richland County Deputy Shannon Huffman was on patrol on Wednesday afternoon, she found herself tailing an emu.  

Yes, an emu. 

Wikipedia says an emu is the second-tallest living bird after the ostrich. It's native to Australia and they can reach up to six feet in height.   

They are legal to own in South Carolina along with its cousin the ostrich. 

The are brown, soft feathered birds that can sprint up to 30 mph and it likes to and can travel great distances. 

That might explain this one's recent romp in the Lower Richland area. 

On Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. Huffman and another deputy were parked on Eastover Road after going to a call and she saw an emu running down a dirt road. 

She immediately knew what it was. 

She followed it, but lost it. 

RELATED: North Carolina county officials locate emu on the loose, create plan to capture him

When she got up on Thursday, she got a message from another deputy that there was an emu missing in the area. Then, she saw the Facebook post and contacted the owners.

Here is what Samatha Gray, the emu's owner, posted on Facebook. 

"My emu escaped her enclosure and has been lost for five days… The neighbors have been spotting her daily and sending me photos daily and the deputies at Richland County Police Department have captured her and brought her home safely to me!! Deputy Shannon Huffman was absolutely amazing and worked hours in between her shifts to help me find my baby!!  My emu’s name is Winnie Mandela!" 

They told her their new 9-month- old emu, 'Winnie Mandela', had gone on a walkabout of sorts. She had been missing for five days. 

The owners told Huffman that she was very sweet and gentle.  

At that point, Huffman made it a mission a find her. 

Thanks to Facebook posts and Facebook messenger conversations with Winnie's owners they began to pinpoint her location.

RELATED: A little ditty 'bout Jack & Diane | Emu, donkey inseparable at Carolina rescue

Facebook posts began to direct the deputy to the wayward flightless bird.   

Finally, she was found in a man's front lawn.  

The owners told the man that she loved water, so he began to spray her with the hose.  

She was good and wet when the deputies arrived. 

"I googled it all morning, 'how to catch an emu,'" Huffman said. "Scoop them from behind, because they will tip forward." 

So that's just what she did. 

She grabbed the big wet bird, about 60-70 pounds she figures, and just grabbed on. 

"I didn't have the opportunity to worry about the feet," said the deputy turned emu wrangler. "It was chill, the owner knew I was there, she sent her husband with food."  

Another deputy helped tie up the feet, the emu's most dangerous body part. 

"I was laughing the whole time," she said. 

The emu was caught on the first try, and Huffman carried her to the truck. 

Of the adventure, Huffman said she was just covered in wet emu feathers.  

She thought that Winnie might fit inside the truck, "you know the part where we put the bad guys."  

Winnie was too big, so the truck bed it was. 

"It was the longest ride of my life," said Huffman, as she held the big, wet, emu all the way home.

The whole adventure had a happy ending as Winnie was returned to her owners. 

"This was amazing, unpredictable, not something you see every day. It will probably be the only emu I catch in my career," Huffman said. 

The best part, she said, was the way the community came together through social media to find the bird. "It really did bring the community together over social media, just like a family."

She also added that she is pretty sure it's gonna be Region 8's Christmas party video.  


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