POLICE and park staff say they are bewildered by the theft of an emu from Featherdale Wildlife Park in Doonside yesterday.
Inspector Steve Oswald of Blacktown police and park senior curator Chad Staples said it was unlikely the theft was the work of an animal welfare group or linked to a black market gang involved in the recent theft of some exotic birds.
Watch our video of today's police media conference below:
They believed it could be a mischievous prank by residents or university students.
Inspector Oswald said police believed the theft had occurred at about midnight on Tuesday.
Residents living near the park heard some dogs barking about that time.
‘‘We believe several people caught the animal with some difficulty, tied it and threw it over the electrified fence to their mates before fleeing,’’ he said.
‘‘Police are very concerned for the emu as she must be very stressed by the act.
‘‘Why would anyone do this?
‘‘It’s unbelievable and cruel.’’
Mr Staple appealed to the people who committed the act to return the animal.
‘‘It is under enormous stress and would need medical treatment to calm it,’’ he said.
He said a staff member discovered the theft when one of three kangaroos that share the pen with the two emus was found wandering outside the open gate.
Mr Staples said they had spent about $200,000 improve security at the park following several thefts last year.
He said the suspected thieves’ getaway path was not covered by closed circuit television cameras.
“The emu must have struggled with its captors and may have been injured in the ordeal,’’ Mr Staples said.
Anyone who sees the emu on the road or wandering the streets is urged not to approach or try to restrain the animal as it may behave erratically and run into traffic.
They should contact police on triple-0 immediately.
Sightings can also be reported to Featherdale Wildlife Park, 9622 1644.