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Emmanuel the emu does not have the avian flu, but is likely stressed out, owner says

Taylor Blake is helping Emmanuel with physical therapy in a homemade sling.
@hiitaylorblake/Screenshot by NPR
Taylor Blake is helping Emmanuel with physical therapy in a homemade sling.

Emmanuel the emu does not have the avian flu as was suspected, but instead has been experiencing high levels of stress after a strain struck dozens of fellow birds on the farm, his owner has said.

"Emmanuel Todd Lopez tested negative for avian influenza at 2 separate labs, swab, fecal and blood." Taylor Blake, the owner of Knuckle Bump Farms in South Florida, said last Saturday. "He does not have the virus, and is not actively shedding the virus."

She continued, "We believe this all stemmed from stress. Emus are highly susceptible to stress. He was incredibly overwhelmed by the state coming in and euthanizing our flock."

Emmanuel became a viral sensation for his behavior interrupting Blake's TikTok videos and attacking the phone while Blake was filming.

A wave of avian flu killed more than 50 birds in just three days. Only two birds survived, Blake said

Many of the birds had to be euthanized, and Emmanuel did not eat for days afterward. What food he did eat later, Blake had to give him, as he has not been able to eat food on his own. He later collapsed from weakness due to a lack of nutrition and had been "thrashing on the ground for hours, trying to get himself up," Blake said.

Though, in the most recent tweet on Blake's account, she said Emmanuel is now able to reposition himself and drink water on his own.

"I've dedicated the past 10 days to saving my best friend's life, and it's working," she said. "He's fighting. He's getting stronger. I could've listened to the negative comments and given up, but I didn't, and I'm proud of myself. I trusted myself. I trusted God."

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Ayana Archie
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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