The emu is one of Australia’s most distinctive and recognisable animals, endemic to this country and beloved all the more because of this fact. If there was a novelty spin-off of the NBA, designed to promote the wonders of the zoological sciences by, somewhat unethically, assigning animals to play in one of the 5 positions that comprise the game of basketball, the emu would be an all-star centre. This is because, as Australia’s largest native bird, the emu has an imposing 1.9 metre stature at its highest, erect position. This also makes it the second largest bird on the planet, after the emu’s “ratite” cousin, the ostritch. Ratites are a class of flightless birds, including Australia’s very own Cassowary, which have their origins in the supercontinent of Gondwanaland.
We’ve all seen our pets employ methods that are uncannily similar to the sly, stealthy modus operandi of our favourite sleuths such as James Bond or Philip Marlowe in their attempt to help themselves to seconds. Maybe, from the interests of our own self-preservation, we shouldn’t have underestimated their ability to process the tips on display when we shared the couch with them for a couple of hours of block-busting fun.
But real animals as real spies?
Who hasn’t felt something stir in the deepening well of the soul when a threatened animal species, such as the noble orang-utan, is seen escaping habitat destruction in a documentary or advertisement attempting to raise awareness of its plight? Or perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to experience that same inner echo, like the sound of a single stone splash and reverberate in that self-same well, when encountering the probing, stoic gaze of a mountain gorilla through a forest clearing?
What do you do when you release the biggest selling album of all time and are crowned the King of Pop by legions of fans worldwide and by a media industry salivating for its next lurid headline? You purchase a chimp is what you do.