Six Kids And An Emu: The Unlikely Aussie Pet That Adopted A Queensland Family
WARNING: This story may make you want an emu, but you cannot just have an emu.
About six months ago, the McArthur family took on an unexpected addition to their already large farming family.
Fred -- a fully grown emu named by the McArthur children -- decided the family was quite to his liking while they were mustering cattle on their central Queensland property.
"He popped under a tree in the paddock and started following our horses," Ainsley McArthur told 10 daily.
"Initially we all were very cautious and thought we were being chased by an emu but as we worked out later he was friendly."
McArthur said while emus are a common enough sight on the property, Fred is the first and only to have any interest in the family.
A few days and a couple of at-a-distance encounters later, McArthur and her husband finally approached the feathered beast.
Since then, he's never left them alone.
"He's really full of personality," McArthur said.
We're talking cuddles, chin scratches, games of cricket and reading books with the little ones -- in other words, imagine owning a dog but the dog is one of the world's largest flightless birds that can run at speeds of up to 50km/h.
It's also not entirely impossible Fred thinks he's a farmhand.
"He gets very excited when we have cattle trucks come in with cattle," McArthur said.
"As soon as the trucks come in he hears them come in from quite a distance away."
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As for the name, you could say Fred chose it for himself. When the family's six children began calling out names to the animal -- which up until that point was simply referred to as 'the emu' -- Fred was just the one that caught his attention.
In many ways, Fred is still living the life of a wild emu -- living freely on the grounds and taking care of his own food needs.
But in every other way, he's a member of the McArthur family the same way Whiskers or Spot might be a part of yours.
"The novelty has somewhat worn off though," McArthur admitted.
"We have a tiled BBQ area downstairs and you have no idea how much an emu poops."