‘It’s A Beautiful Vision’: Students and Residents Gather to Mourn Fallen Emu
Read in The Daily Tar Heel 9/16/2019
Attendance was modest for the barely-lit vigil honoring Eno the emu on Sunday night.
The bird, who had been roaming Orange County since late June, died during an attempted capture by Orange County Animal Services on Sept. 12. Authorities hoped to relocate the animal to safety at the The Blind Spot Animal Sanctuary in Durham County.
For much of the evening, the sidewalk in front of Wilson Library sat empty. Only a few students and locals stopped to write notes in memory of Eno, tucking the slips of paper into a jar next to a framed photo of an emu.
“It started off as a joke,” Jackson Seymore, a UNC senior who organized the vigil, said. “The emu really represented something wild, distinctly serendipitous about Chapel Hill and Orange County. One day, you can just be doing your thing, and suddenly an emu is on the loose. It’s a beautiful vision.”
Some found humor in the event, while others were more emotional. Mimi O’Grady, a Carrboro resident, came with her daughter.
“The thought of that bird dying while they were trying to save it is so sad,” she said. “I really felt for the animal being alone, and the stress that he probably felt. I followed the story mostly out of caring for him, and hoping that they would be able to find a home for him.”
The emu’s well-being has been a subject of concern for the community since its first sightings, with Eno’s Facebook page gaining thousands of likes. After Eno’s death, many users commented that they were heartbroken.
“We just want to pay our respects to a soul that was taken from us much too quickly,” UNC senior Natalie Flow, who attended with her friend Collin Worley, said. “It was like trying to catch smoke, a ghost in the night.”
Flow and Worley spent time reading the notes that other mourners left before moving on, carrying glow sticks that were provided for those who attended the vigil.
Reflecting on Eno’s death, Seymore said he felt a responsibility to honor the bird and what it represented.
“I think, in a sense, it makes Eno a martyr,” Seymore said. “The wild and pure things in this world cannot live long. The emu started out as a meme and now it’s one of those things that people are actually mildly inspired by.”
No one has come forward with information about how the emu arrived in North Carolina, and its origins remain a mystery.