Hillary Groves and Joe the emu pose after Joe was found after a day on the lam in Harrison. Hillary Groves photo

HARRISON — Joe stands about 5 foot, 3 inches tall. He likes hugs, loves strawberries and hates kale.

He’s an emu. And recently, he went on a grand adventure down the Crooked River.

Owner Hillary Groves said she and her children spend about an hour a day hanging out with Fro, a female emu, and Joe, named after Aroma Joe’s signature drink Fro Joe.

On that fateful morning of Sept. 30, Groves’ son noticed Joe was gone.

“I didn’t even realize,” Groves said. “I thought I saw him laying on the ground. Clearly, it wasn’t him. When I went to go feed them, I noticed (Fro) was pacing back and forth.”

Joe wasn’t in his cage or the outside pen. “I was like ‘oh, crap,'” she said.

She and her boyfriend started looking. She checked the roads while he scoured the woods. After a few hours, she reached out to animal control people and the Maine Lost Dog Recovery Facebook page.

Groves’ best guess was Joe followed the Crooked River as he tried to find his way back home but every time he got spooked he crossed the river.

Luckily, Joe wasn’t alone in his journey. Turns out, a human-size bird is pretty easy to spot.

Groves began to receive photos of Joe from local residents. She tried to follow up on the tips but was always too late.

On Oct. 1, after dropping off her son at school, she went home to grab a few emu-hunting essentials: ratchet straps and sheets. The ratchet straps were to help if Joe got rowdy, and, apparently, putting a sheet over an emu’s head is a great way to calm it down.

Joe the emu stands at the Twin Bridges Preserve in Harrison before he was rescued Oct. 1. Hillary Groves photo

Driving past the Twin Bridges Preserve on Route 117, she saw Joe.

“At first, he was spooked,” Groves said. “When he realized it was us, he laid right down. He was like, ‘I’m happy now.’ He laid right down and started eating. He was fine, other than the big rocks in the preserve parking lot. For some reason, those made him wicked scared.”

Eventually, they got Joe into his owner’s Honda, buckled him in and drove home.

A few things have changed for Joe. He and his female friend are in a bigger pen that’s 10 feet tall, not 6 feet.

Gradually, Joe fell back into his routine of eating grain, munching on strawberries, playing with leaves, and giving hugs.

“He’s doing a lot better now,” Groves said.

And though Groves said the adventure was harrowing, and, at times frantic for both Joe and herself, she had faith. After all, how many rouge emus are traversing through Harrison?

“I was kind of thinking, an emu is an emu, not everyone has one. If someone sees an emu, it’s probably mine,” Groves said.

Joe is buckled into his owner’s Honda ready to go home to Harrison after being on the lam overnight. Hillary Groves photo










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