Emmanuel, the emu who won viral fame on TikTok for his attention-grabbing behavior, is in dire condition after contracting the avian influenza, according to his owner.
CNN previously reported on the emu, who rose to fame after his owner, Taylor Blake, began posting videos documenting life on her small farm, Knuckle Bump Farms, in south Florida. Emmanuel repeatedly interrupted Blake’s videos of other animals to peck at the camera and garnered millions of views in the process.
Blake posted a lengthy Twitter thread Saturday, in which she described the “massive tragedy” caused by an avian flu outbreak at her farm.
Wild geese flying onto the farm transmitted the virus, she said. More than fifty of her birds, including three emus, died over the course of three days.
Then, on Wednesday, Emmanuel also contracted the illness, she wrote.
“Currently, he is stable. His neurological symptoms have subsided but he still won’t eat or drink on his own,” she wrote. “I am hand feeding him & giving him subcutaneous fluids every 2hrs around the clock.
“He is a fighter and I wholeheartedly believe he is going to make a full recovery.”
The emu is suffering from nerve damage in his right leg and foot, Blake said. Blake posted snapshots of the sling she and her girlfriend engineered to help him regain function in the leg.
Emmanuel and a swan named Rico, are now the only birds left on the farm, Blake wrote. The facility is also home to cows, deer, and pigs, among other animals.
“I’ve taken time to process and grieve as much as possible, while also dedicating all of my time to the animals and their well-being,” she wrote. “It’s hard to grieve when so many lives depend on you.”
A highly contagious strain of avian influenza has been confirmed in wild birds in 32 counties in Florida since January 2022, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Almost 50 million poultry have been affected by the disease as of Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.