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Windana celebrates 30 years of living his best emu life!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

Happy birthday—or hatch day—to this special emu! Windana turned 30 years old on March 22, which makes him one of the oldest known emus in all of the accredited zoos in North America! Emus have an average life expectancy of around 10 years in the wild and around 20 years in human care—so Windana’s age is a testament to the amazing care he receives, day in and day out, from our animal keepers and veterinary staff.

Windana is a sweetheart of an emu with a permanent case of bedhead. Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Emus are large flightless birds native to Australia. They’re the second largest living birds on the planet next to the ostriches of Africa and, as adults, can easily grow 5 to 6 feet tall. Windana, whose name comes from an Aboriginal word referencing a “crossroads” or a “turning point”, has lived at Woodland Park Zoo for almost his whole life. He arrived here in 1992, along with a female emu around the same age named Kowia. Both of them lived together in our Australasia habitat until last year when Kowia passed away at the ripe old age of 29.

Windana is an emu for all seasons! Here he is enjoying the fall foliage. Photo: Beth Carlyle-Askew/Woodland Park Zoo

And here is Windana enjoying one of our winter snow days! Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Other than some arthritis in his joints—a normal condition for his age—Windana is living his best emu life. Our animal keepers describe him as a big sweetheart with a permanent case of bed-head (an affectionate reference to the crown of curly feathers on his head). He is pretty chill with all the wallaroos and wallabies that share the exhibit yard with him and really enjoys interacting with his keepers, too. He particularly likes it when they spoil him with neck scratches and massages, which are offered liberally during his weekly laser therapy sessions for his arthritis. Not only is this kind of treatment good for his ageing joints, but he seems to relish the pampering and finds the whole “spa day” process so relaxing that he usually falls asleep.

Windana gets weekly massages along with laser therapy for his arthritis, but Tuesday's special massage session (courtesy of animal keeper, Amanda) was purely for relaxation. Photo: Susan Burchardt/Woodland Park Zoo

Some of Windana’s favorite activities include sitting in the sunshine, taking showers under the sprinklers (or in the rain), walking along the moat in his habitat with some of the regular volunteers and docents he recognizes, and “supervising” his animal keepers while they do their work.

Windana is such a handsome emu! Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

When it comes to mealtime, Windana loves eating apples, several different types of greens, and a variety of browse. He also seems to enjoy snacking on the bamboo that grows along the back of his outdoor yard. For his birthday, our keepers spoiled him with all his favorite foods along with a few edible celebratory decorations made by our creative commissary staff.

Windana's oversized "birthday card" was filled with his favorite treats of apple, grass, romaine and bamboo! Photo: Susan Burchardt/Woodland Park Zoo

Happy birthday, Windana! We love you!