Roanoke family fights to keep pet emu - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Roanoke family fights to keep pet emu

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Courtesy: Chelsea Powell Courtesy: Chelsea Powell

A Roanoke family is fighting to keep their family pet--- an emu named ZaZu. They've filed a special request with the city.

"Skunks killed all of our chickens and we read online that emus will protect the chickens from skunks," said Mike Powell, who lives in Raleigh Court and owns the emu.

The Powell family filed a special exception application with the planning, building and development office. The request falls under agricultural zoning.

The emu lives with other animals in the backyard including a fox, chicken and dog.

"We use the emu's waste to fertilize with, we eat the emu eggs, we eat the chicken eggs. As much as you can do and in a city we would like to make it more self-sustaining so we're not increasing our carbon footprint," said Powell.

Roanoke City says they've never had a request for an emu. After investigating staff recommend approving the request noting the approval would be for just one and it falls under the same regulations as other animals. The city says compared the bird to a large dog and if it ran away or became a nuisance the family could be held responsible.

But not everyone is happy.

"I don't think it's an appropriate setting for an emu, generally. My biggest concern is actually safety," said Bruce Knappe who lives next door and says he hasn't had any problems but is concerned and plans on being at the public hearing. "This is, obviously, a very close neighborhood. It's a very small yard. We have a lot of children in this neighborhood."

"She's probably one of the most quiet, docile, laid-back animals you can have. She doesn't affect anybody else's life or the way they live and I just hope that they understand she's not a nuisance to anybody," said Chelsea Powell.

The family's request gets heard next week.

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