Roanoke Allows Pet Emu To Stay

Roanoke, VA - Roanoke City zoning officials have decided to allow a Grandin Court family keep a year old pet emu in their backyard.

Chelsea Powell fell in love with her pet emu, Za Zu, the minute she saw the chick about 14 months ago.

They initially bought Za Zu to deter skunks from killing the Powell's urban chicken flock.

Little did Powell know a year later she would be battling it out at city hall in order to keep the bird that has since become a part of the family.

"She's not just any bird. She's unusual like we are. We've always been a little different and she follows right along with our way of living. She's super sweet and we love her to death," said Powell.

But the Powell's neighbors are a bit upset over the animal's presence..

"I think there are two issues here: Cruelty to animals and danger to the neighborhood." said the Powell's neighbor, Dr. Sharon Hatfield.

Hatfield's main claim is that the Powells have shown irresponsible pet keeping behavior in the past.

She says that track record mixed with what she believes could be a dangerous bird, spells nothing but future trouble.

"An emu hasn't gotten out yet but what about if and when?" asked Hatfield.

In the end the board narrowly approved the special request, but plans to revisit the issue in 18-months; giving a reprieve to Za Zu and a reprieve to this family not too keen about kicking this bird out of the nest.

"I'm so today, and relieved, that everything went well and we get to keep our family member with us," said Powell.

Za Zu is covered by a special exception meaning all potential future emu owners would have to go through the same application process.

The Powells also need to comply with certain conditions that include rules governing noise, smell and proper enclosure.

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