Melbourne Zoo Emus Wallow for Summer Skincare

12 January 2022

Melbourne Zoo's Emu sisters have found a perfect – albeit, slightly muddy – way to beat the summer heat.

On hot days, 12-year-olds Edwina and Blondie love wading into the muddy water wallow created for them using
recycled water in the Zoo's Australia Bush precinct.

Melbourne Zoo Australia Bush Coordinator Zoe Rowell said, as well as being refreshingly cool, the wallowing also has
benefits for the Emus' skin.

“Emus love water, and here at the Zoo it is part of their proactive healthcare," Ms Rowell said.

"They use it to maintain their skin condition as mud is a really great conditioner and sunscreen. And they use the
water to preen and look after their feathers.

“They are very curious animals, and they love to explore and investigate the water with their feet and beaks. They
get right down into the water to immerse in it and make sure all those itchy spots on their back are covered."

“Emus are almost waterproof, so they are actually just getting the outer layer wet. They have an inner layer of down,
and then the outer layer of feathers. So it is the outer layer of feathers they are keeping clean," Ms Rowell said.

"They look wet through, but they are actually quite dry underneath."

Emus are the second largest living bird by height, second only to another flightless bird, the Ostrich. Despite being
unable to fly, they are one of the fastest native Australian animals - able to reach speeds of up to 50km an hour.