An animal lover who took in eggs for his hens to keep warm was amazed when one of them hatched - and an emu popped out.
Wayne Brown, aged 48, a self-employed driver, took several eggs from a friend when his hens became broody three weeks ago.
“The egg was bigger than the others, but I’m not an expert and I know sometimes you can get geese eggs that are bigger than others.
“When he popped out I was really surprised. I’m just as bemused as everybody else that I now have a pet emu. It’s like winning the jackpot when you didn’t even know you’d bought a ticket.”
Wayne has called the bird - which was born earlier this month and has brown, black and white fur - Hercules.
“I know he’s going to get big, so I thought I may as well give him a big name now. In the days since he hatched he’s already doubled in size. I understand that by the age of six months he will be the same size as an Alsatian dog and could end up being about seven or eight feet tall.”
It’s like winning the jackpot when you didn’t even know you’d bought a ticketWayne Brown
Not knowing anything about his new-found pet,the dad-of-two went straight online to find out as much as he could about emus.
“I found out that I can feed him a similar sort of thing that I give to the chickens, a mix of corn and grain and other nutrients - and he also pecks at strawberries and blueberries. He drinks a lot of water too.
“I make sure that he gets lots of exercise. At night he sleeps in a large plastic enclosure, which has everything he could need - including a pillow and a teddy that he likes to cuddle up to. During the day I get him out and watch him while he runs around the garden.”
Hercules has also been making friends at his home in Intake. Wayne, who grew up with a menagerie of animals including a Shetland pony and a goat, also keeps a Staffordshire bull terrier called Patches, two cats, five rabbits and a parrot.
“They all get on fine. Patches think she’s his mum. They play and eat together. All I’m concerned about is making sure my animals are happy and safe. I know I can’t keep Hercules forever because he’ll get too big. I’m just his surrogate father,” said Wayne.
“I am going to ask Yorkshire Wildlife Park if they can take him, or I have friends with farms who may be able to look after him. I’ll make sure he finds a good home. I’m looking forward to seeing what he becomes.”