Long-awaited Emu birth at Hellabrunn Zoo

After waiting more than ten years for the emus at Hellabrunn Zoo to produce offspring, the Australian ratites - living in the same enclosure as the red kangaroos - have given birth to eight chicks.

Emu chicks with Papa Kanoro (Copyright: Münchner Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller)

Being a father can be quite a challenge, especially when you have so many babies at the same time and have to take care of all of them on your own. The eight chicks born to emu Papa Kanoro (9 years) and Mama Luschi (3) will certainly keep Kanoro on his toes. The responsibility for taking care of chicks in an Australian ratite community is clear: Although the female emu lays the eggs, everything that comes after - brooding the eggs and raising the chicks - is the man's responsibility.


Between 6 - 12 May, eight chicks emerged from their dark green eggs, which are slightly smaller than an ostrich egg: five chicks hatched on 6 May, two on 8 May, and one on 12 May. By this time, Papa Kanoro had already spent about 60 days brooding the eggs. In addition to this, for the first year and a half of the chicks' life, they will be raised solely by their father. The mother of the hatchlings does not participate in raising her young. Small emus have a plumage of black and white stripes that resembles a young wild boar. The eight emu chicks' favourite food is insects and nettles. The little ones have not yet been named as the zoo has yet to determine their gender.


"Kanoro, the father of our young emu, is doing an excellent job. He has a very protective instinct and takes good care of his chicks. As we have had no emu births at Hellabrunn Zoo for more than ten years, we are especially delighted to welcome our eight healthy young ratites," says zoo director Beatrix Köhler.


The emu chicks are now two and a half months old. They live together in the same enclosure with red kangaroos where Papa Kanoro has plenty to do: As soon as one of the emu chicks strays away from papa, another will run off in the opposite direction; there may also be a cheeky kangaroo that must be driven away if it ventures too close to the chicks. Papa Kanoro's work never stops.


Emus live in the wild in Australia. They can jump up to a height of two and a half metres and can run up to 50 km/h. However, ratites are flightless birds. They have not developed suitable wings. The emu are not related to the ostrich - even if they look similar - but instead to the cassowary. The emu is the second largest bird in the world after the African ostrich: emus grow to a weight of more than 50 kilos and can stand up to 1.80 metres tall.