A Hampshire mum has been forced to hand over an emu chick bought on eBay to the RSPCA.
Charlotte Harrison, from Bordon, was given the £25 egg as a present by her father in October, and since then has been nurturing and looking after her feathered friend.
Using online advice the mum-of-three bought a home incubating kit, weighed and turned the egg daily until it hatched, and learnt how to ‘squeak and whistle like an emu’ using YouTube videos.
But after spending months keeping the young chick - named Kevin - at home, Charlotte has had to give up her pet after somebody spotted videos she had posted online.
Two members of the RSPCA arrived at her home to take Kevin, who is now being looked after by a specialist.
Speaking to the Sun, Charlotte said she was ‘gutted’ at losing her pet but understood why it was necessary.
She added: ‘It’s so sad without Kevin, in the time he was with us he was adored and became a real member of the family – I felt so protective of him and the kids loved him.
‘I was hurt that someone tipped off the RSPCA because we’d created a lovely home for Kevin and had planned for when he got big – we were treating him well and I’d done all my research.’
The 24-year-old said Kevin had started following her around the house because he ‘think’s she’s his mum’.
She had previously hatched chickens at home, with help from her children Ellie, four, 19-month-old Rhys and four-month-old Molly.
‘I cried saying goodbye to Kevin.’Charlotte Harrison
She also told the Sun: ‘I cried saying goodbye to Kevin.’
A RSPCA spokeswoman confirmed a pet emu chick was voluntarily signed over to the charity last week.
RSPCA exotics officer Philip Hamilton said: ‘We are deeply concerned about the number of exotic animals now being kept as pets.
‘People may buy them with little idea of how difficult they can be to keep. This is why we would encourage anyone thinking of getting an exotic pet to find out as much as possible about the animal’s needs and whether they’re a realistic pet.’
Emus can grow to more than 6 ft tall and are the second-tallest living bird by height after the ostrich.
Until 2007 they required a licence to be kept, under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.
They can live for up to 20 years and need large outdoor paddocks with a shelter and high fencing to keep them safe.