AN ANIMAL charity has warned pet owners not to buy exotic wild animals online after being called out to rescue an emu from a New Forest garden last week.

The RSPCA issued the advice after the three-year-old male emu, was rescued last month.

RSPCA exotics officer Phil Hamilton said: “Elvis was originally purchased on eBay as a fertile egg and was hatched by his previous owner. Elvis was taken in by a new owner to live with his chickens in his small, back garden. The bird has been strongly imprinted on humans, having never seen another emu.”

The RSPCA was contacted by a member of the public who was concerned about the bird’s welfare. Specialist animal collection officer (ACO) Hamilton and ACO Darren Woodroof visited the property and spoke with the owner who agreed it would be better for Elvis to be rehomed somewhere with more space and with another emu friend.

He is now living with a female emu named Cilla.

Elvis is the latest in a number of unusual call-outs the charity has received to exotic or wild animals, including raccoon dogs, primates and even alligators.

RSPCA senior scientific officer Nicola White, said: “Some species are unsuitable to be kept as pets because their needs cannot be met adequately in a household environment, or because they are dangerous.

“The giant birds, which are native to Australia, stay with their parent for up to 18 months in the wild but if hand-reared, emu chicks may imprint on their owner, instead of their parent, and then get distressed when the owner leaves. Problems can also occur as they mature, as they may see their owner as their sexual partner and this can lead to aggression.”

To report an exotic animal for rescue, visit