Beatrice, the famed Vermont emu found in Bow, got loose again and was killed in an accident

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 08-16-2023 10:36 AM

Beatrice the emu was a runner.

This became evident when she escaped from her home at Taft Hill Farm in Townshend, Vt., and after a few months, in September 2015, she arrived in Bow, believed to have traveled more than 80 miles on foot, including crossing the Connecticut River.

Her story became a sensation. Bow residents were told to be on the lookout for the wayward bird, keep their garage doors open at night in hopes of catching her, and everyone wondered where she came from. The Monitor wondered how she was doing and contacted her owners for an update on Beatrice.

Despite being safely returned to the farm by her caretakers, it wasn’t long before Beatrice got loose again. Within a matter of weeks, she took off in a frantic sprint, but this time her life was cut short by an accident. She was hit by a truck on a rural Vermont road while out on the lam.

In the week leading up to her eventual return to Vermont, Beatrice was spotted roaming freely through the neighborhoods of Bow. Once the bird was successfully captured and transferred to Wings of Dawn, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Henniker, Kermit Blackwood – the curator of Taft Hill Farm – arrived to take the emu back home.

“Beatrice being all the way over and out in Hampshire, it was just like, ‘Wow, the fact that she got that far away, it’s amazing,’ ” said Blackwood.

Maria Colby, director of the wildlife rehabilitation center, recalled Beatrice’s friendly demeanor during her short stay.

“When I would walk into the cage, she would come right next to me, sort of trotting and brush up against my arm,” said Colby.

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The return journey to the Vermont farm was as unconventional as Beatrice’s initial escapade.

Accompanied by Blackwood, Beatrice traveled in the back of a 2013 Toyota Prius, with a blue sock carefully placed over her head to keep her calm.

However, when she was back home, fate took a cruel twist for the emu.

On Oct. 14, 2015, a fire broke out in the barn home to cows and sheep. While Blackwood and others at the farm battled the flames, a frantic Beatrice, who was away from the blaze, ran away again.

With a frenzy of powerful kicks to the fence holding her and other emus, she clawed through the enclosure and took off, said Blackwood.

“It was just devastating, and the emus were nowhere near the barn,” said Blackwood. “But the emus panicked and Beatrice, she literally made her way through fencing that held the emus.”

Days later, Beatrice was found lifeless at the side of a road, a mere 15 miles away from her farm. The emu had fallen victim to a collision with a truck in Athens, Vt.

“It was wonderful to have her back and she seemed to be relieved to be home, and to lose her like that, I was really devastated,” said Blackwood.

At 24 years old, Beatrice held the title of the oldest emu at Taft Hill Farm.

While Beatrice was not born within the boundaries of the farm, as she was brought from upstate New York, she is survived by her daughter Millicent and granddaughter Willamina.

Looking back on his time spent with Beatrice, Blackwood said he misses the unique bird.

“Everything was special about Beatrice,” he said. “I guess I bonded with her more than others. She was very large but calm.”

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