City Desk

Why Is There Only One Emu At The Zoo? A Poem

This poem by one Blair Rieley (the author e-mails us to say it's  a nom de plume) wonders about the state of the Smithsonian National Zoo and why, exactly there's only one emu. Rieley—whose favorite bird is actually the pelican—tells us: "Darwin is by far the most entertaining animal at the zoo. He struts along the perimeter of his pen all day long.  Tons of people take photos of him with their kids in the foreground. He is a treasure. His personality more than makes up for his looks."

The poetry manages to turn a complaint about emus into some grumbling about the way the zoo is run. Rieley says, "There is no reason that the Zoo should have to continually raise money from private citizens. Ag and tech schools should be affiliated with it. Administrators should watch the budget, use best practices and be creative in redeveloping a sense of place and the best family attraction in Washington, D.C."

While we don't endorse everything in the poem, we're running it in full, because honestly, we don't often get poetry in our inboxes:

Why Is There Only One Emu At The Zoo?

The animals from Australia can show the world a thing or two,
After all, Australia is home to the kangaroo and flightless birds such as the emu.

Australia’s best are barely featured at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
How, you ask, could this be true?

Darwin’s pen sits prominently atop the hill.
The friendly emu is always happy to greet
and show off his massive clawed feet.

Visitors, groundskeepers or volunteers,
Darwin can sense when they are near.

He struts regally like a king or general
His only company is a single marsupial.
Darwin’s show has lots of flourish
His pen mate, the wallaby, he does out shine.
Far down the path, the antipodean Kiwi hides in the dark,
The cassowary is in solitary near other big birds,
But for all his show, why is Darwin the only emu that remains at the zoo? 

Mine is far from a guess or suspicion
I’ve heard it more than once,
As entertaining and beloved as Darwin is
He is occupying expensive real estate
And there is a plan afoot to replace him with a bigger draw
An ostrich and a pig, I hear.

Isn’t there something that Australians can do?
After all, Darwin is their capital
An emu is on their country’s crest.

It seems his compatriots and fans
Could celebrate his moral courage and pleasant demeanor
By giving him what he really desires
A filly so that he may be a sire.
Add another wallaby or two,
If possible include a family of kangaroo.
Dress the place up with fence posts of didgeridoo.
Come on Mate, it would be great!

Raise the bar.  Take the lead.
Show the world that Aussie pride
Forge relationships, bridge gaps, promote good things with good news
Think of what you would do if you were in Darwin’s shoes.

While we’re at it, let’s assess financial conditions at the zoo.

Everyone can plainly see
Animals are far outnumbered by employees.
Contractors abound.
Siemens’ contract is a sham
Forrester’s pachyderm extravaganza must be over budget and delayed.
While animals are eating GMO pellets
Workmen are swinging golden mallets.
A monkey’s forensic audit
Would have caught it!

Photo by NCinDC via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License

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  • knackers

    Emus, much like the other animal on the Australian coat of arms, are also very tasty.

  • renegade09

    Though the emu is a fine beast
    This doggerel is fine in the least
    The poet made a big error
    The capital of Oz is Canberra