Two brazen emu siblings named Kevin and Carol have been banned from a hotel in Australia’s Outback for bad behavior.
Located in a small, isolated township of the same name in central western Queensland, the tiny Yaraka Hotel has just four rooms, as well as campgrounds and a pub.
Co-owner Chris Gimblett tells CNN Travel the emus were once welcome visitors and would pop by every now and then for a few biscuits. Then they learned to climb stairs.
“Travelers have to be very cautious with the emus, because they will poke their heads in a caravan door and drink all the coffee without spilling the mug and steal your toast, and if you have a barbecue watch out because they’ll take everything,” he says.
“When they finish breakfast at the caravan park they come down to the hotel, and last week they figured out how to walk up the steps of the hotel.”
As a result, they’ve had to put up a chain rope at the top of the steps, along with a sign that reads: “Emus have been banned from this establishment for bad behavior. Please let yourself through the emu barrier and then reconnect.”
Why the ban? Gimblett says: “You don’t want to get between an emu and food.”
“They’ve got very sharp beaks and they’re a bit like a vacuum cleaner where food is concerned, so we were worried about them going into the dining room and causing havoc,” he explains.
And then there’s the aftermath.
“Because they do eat so much food, their toiletry habits are very frequent … imagine a sloppy bowl of porridge that you turn over from a height of a meter – the splatter is very effective.”
Standing up to 1.9 meters tall (6.2 feet), the emu is Australia’s tallest native bird and one of the world’s largest bird species, according to conservation group Birdlife Australia. Emus are related to ostriches and another native Australian bird, the cassowary.
“They’re not terribly user friendly, they don’t enjoy being patted but they’re okay with their necks being stroked for a little while.” says Gimblett of emus.
This isn’t the first time the siblings have have caused mischief. Last year, before they learned to climb the front steps, someone left a gate open, giving them hotel access through the back.
“One came in and went behind the bar and the other came and stood in front of it,” says Gimblett.
As for the origins of the emus, he says it all started about two years ago, when eight eggs – seemingly abandoned – were found in the town and given to a wildlife lover.
“She wrapped them up in blankets and sometime later she heard squeaks coming from inside the eggs, so she tapped them with a spoon and they hatched,” says Gimblett, who moved to Yaraka in the 1990s with his wife Gerry after selling their business in Brisbane.
“Some of the emus went walkabout, and we’ve been left with two who are permanent residents here in town. Kevin and Carol are their names, but Carol has ended up being a male.”