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20 emus escape from ranch in southwest Japan; half still on loose

KUMAMOTO -- Some 20 emus escaped from a tourist ranch in a southwest Japan city on the morning of Oct. 7, and officials managed to capture around half of the escaped birds, but about 10 remained on the loose as of the early afternoon.

    Local police received an emergency call at around 7:15 a.m. from a passerby near the ranch in the Kumamoto Prefecture city of Kikuchi, saying, "A bird that looks like an ostrich is wandering around a national road."

    An emu is pictured in a field in Oita Prefecture in this unrelated file photo taken on April 28, 2008. (Mainichi)

    According to Kikuchi Police Station and the Kikuchi Municipal Government, some 20 of the big birds -- each about 1.5 meters tall -- escaped. There were no reports of injuries to humans.

    According to the municipal government, the ranch is located at the former site of a closed elementary school, and keeps 54 emus. Police are looking for the emus at large, and are urging residents not to approach them.

    The emu is a large bird species native to Australia, and their fat is used in Japan for cosmetic products.

    (Japanese original by Sonoko Nakamura, Kumamoto Bureau; Video courtesy of a local resident)

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