Severe drought conditions sometimes drive hungry, thirsty emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae) into urban areas where they can create havoc - wrecking gardens, running into traffic and getting into scraps with pet dogs. One reason why these flightless birds are so difficult to deal with is that they run so fast. In open countryside they can cover the ground at up to 50kph, with a swaying, bouncing motion. Emus eat insects such as grasshoppers but feed mainly on green herbage like grass and flowers - which is why they should be kept out of gardens. Although wild birds are protected in Australia, emus are farmed throughout the world, yielding low-cholesterol, low-fat meat, highly penetrating non-toxic oil (used in cosmetics), soft and supple leather and exotic feathers for the fashion industry.
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