‘Heartbreaking’ story behind photo of emu

A man who stopped to take a photo of an emu sitting in a paddock has discovered the “heartbreaking” reason the flightless bird was sitting in the grass.

Photographer and graphic designer Benjamin Horgan told he pulled over his car to take a photo of the emu after seeing it seated in a paddock near Kojonup in Western Australia.

He kept a safe distance from the bird, which he said was “very calm” as he approached.

But as he got closer, the farmer who owned the property came over, telling Mr Horgan the sad story behind the emu.

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The emu, Eddie, has returned to the same place every year since losing its mate some years ago. Emus can be monogamous and mate for life, and the place he sits is where the couple used to nest.

He said the couple didn’t know how the emu’s mate had died. “Apparently emus live 10-20 years,” Mr Horgan said. “They think this emu has been on and around their property for 26 years.”

“They mate for life, so I think it was presumed she had died,” he told

“That’s the heartbreaking part. He won’t find another partner,” Mr Horgan said.

Mr Horgan, 25, said the sight of Eddie brooding in the paddock reminded him of Ricky Gervais’ 2019 series After Life, which focuses on the central character Tony, played by Gervais, and his life after his wife Lisa dies.

“He loses his wife to cancer and, I don’t know, I’m reminded of how heartbroken he was in his acting. That he would never find someone better.”

During the brooding period emus are known to lose up to a third of their body weight as they refuse to move from the nest. Mr Horgan said the farmer has taken to bringing the emu food and water throughout this period.

“As the males don’t move while they brood ..they bring him food and water in the morning.”

“I got the vibe that it is kinds of their routine when Eddie comes by this time of year,” he said.

Mr Horgan, a designer and photographer who shares his work on social media, said he took the photos on an iPhone.

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