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GOING VIRAL: Internet star Emmanuel the emu fights for its life after lethal avian flu sweeps through farm

The bird is suffering from nerve damage and is unable to eat or drink on his own after contracting the illness said Emmanuel's owner, Taylor Blake
UPDATED OCT 17, 2022
Emmanuel’s caretaker, Taylor Blake, revealed his dire condition on social media (@hiitaylorblake/Twitter)
Emmanuel’s caretaker, Taylor Blake, revealed his dire condition on social media (@hiitaylorblake/Twitter)

SOUTH FLORIDA: In the midst of a deadly avian flu outbreak that has killed the majority of the farm's birds, Emmanuel the emu, the bird that took social media by storm earlier this year after videobombing his owner's videos while she recorded videos about farming, is fighting for his life. Emmanuel's owner, Taylor Blake, revealed his serious condition on Saturday, October 15, three months after the two of them shot to fame on TikTok.

Daily Mail reported, the bird is suffering from nerve damage and is unable to eat or drink on his own after contracting the illness, according to Blake, whose family owns Knuckle Bump Farms in South Florida. Blake blamed the outbreak on wild geese that regularly invade the farm at night.


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The farmer claimed that, in an effort to save her feathered friend, she is hand-feeding him all of his food, sleeping for less than an hour each day, and giving him subcutaneous fluids every two hours around the clock. She went on to say that she had spoken with Florida officials, who claimed to have informed her that Hurricane Ian's aftermath, which left behind stagnant water puddles late last month, had also sparked the outbreak and "made the virus run rampant." 

In just three days, the sudden spread has nearly wiped out the 29-year-old content creator's stable of more than 50 birds, leaving only the endearing Emmanuel and his stablemate Rico the swan. The approximately 5-foot-8, 120-pound emu has a "long road ahead" to recovery, according to Blake, but the charismatic animal is a "fighter" despite being temporarily unable to walk due to his condition.

Blake tweeted to her 893.7K followers, "I lost Emily, Eliza and Elliot. The virus hit them extremely hard and very quickly. I tried my best to save them, but I was unsuccessful. We lost every single chicken and duck on our farm. We lost all of our geese. We lost our 2 female black swans. We lost both of our turkeys." She also revealed, "We lost 50+ birds in 3 days. I am still trying to wrap my head around it. We thought we were out of the woods, when Emmanuel unexpectedly went down this past Wednesday..."


The post was accompanied by a tearjerking image of Emmanuel looking lethargic and Blake tenderly cuddling his head against hers as the once-active animal lies down on the farm floor. She said, "I am running on about 4hrs of sleep in 4 days bc all that matters to me is saving him,' the farmer added in another post that showed photos of her and family members working on the bird - who at the moment, Blake said, remains stable. Currently, he is stable. His neurological symptoms have subsided but he still won’t eat or drink on his own,' she said, adding, 'I am hand feeding him & giving him subcutaneous fluids every 2hrs around the clock."


Blake claimed she believes waterfowl, such as wild Egyptian geese, which frequently invade the family farm "under the cover of darkness," are to blame for the outbreak at the farm. She is adamant that they infected the domestic birds thereby spreading the disease.

"The virus hit them extremely hard and very quickly," Blake wrote on Twitter of her family's loss, which resulted in the deaths of 'every single" chicken, duck, goose, swan, and turkey. Having said that, authorities reportedly informed the farmer that the spread might have been aided by water that Hurricane Ian dispersed throughout the state. 

The virus, also referred to as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), has so far forced poultry farmers in 36 US states to cull flocks and shut down operations, and a September resurgence of cases poses a threat of even more disruptions. The virus has a 50% fatality rate in humans if it is spread.

Millions of people have seen Emmanuel's videos on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter, and the bird has recently become a viral sensation. After learning about the bird's condition, support poured in on social media from around the world sending prayers for his speedy recovery. One user tweeted, "I can't imagine the toll this is taking on you. Pls remember to take care of yourself as well as Emmanuel Todd Lopez and everyone else xx" Another user said, "Our prayers are with you. Your legacy has been cemented in my classroom. People of all ages around the world are in your corner. Good vibes on this journey." "Omg so devastated for you and your loss just remember they had their best lives with you and they will always have a special place in your heart get well soon Emmanuel! Sending all our love and healing purrs. penned another user. One follower wrote, "I’m so sorry. You and Emmanuel Todd Lopez have given me so much joy when I’ve been down myself. We’re all pulling for him to have a fast and complete recovery. Best wishes from Us."





Blake has been updating the Internet star bird's condition and recovery on social media in a series of posts. Using a homemade sling, the farmhands and animal caretakers can be seen tending to the bird while also caring for him in the photos. Blake claimed that she is "dedicated" to seeing that Emmanuel recovers from this ailment and that with the device, the bird could "start physical therapy."


A therapist and a keen follower of Emmanuel's posts, wrote on Twitter, "therapist here; skilled with equipment and your sling looks awesome! nerves regenerate, slowly but they do, so keep up with range of motion, supported weight bearing and facilitated walking, upward & downward massage and diet...he's a fighter!"

In one of the recent posts, Blake shared a happy update about Emmanuel that he drank water by himself. In the video, the bird can be seen lying on the sling, slightly bending to sip water from the bucket in front of him. She wrote, "EMMANUEL JUST DRANK WATER BY HIMSELF FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE BECOMING ILL Please keep the prayers coming!"


The joy-sharing bird with viral fame is currently making people emotional. One user, an animal rescuer who got emotional seeing his posts tweeted, "Oh my gosh, I’ve never cried so much on a Twitter post. I’m an animal rescuer so I know the feeling-but I wish I knew more about birds right now. They are beautiful, and I will light a candle and say a prayer for you and all of them. I’m so sorry for your losses."

Blake also shared a touching image of her cuddling up to the Australian endemic bird on the floor of her family's barn and kissing him as he lovingly looked back at her. "I love you so much, Emmanuel," she wrote in the post.


This article contains remarks made on the Internet by individual people and organizations. MEAWW cannot confirm them independently and does not support claims or opinions being made online.