The Washington Post

We can learn from emus

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Regarding the July 20 Style article “Emmanuel the emu may not care about his celebrity. But the internet does.”:

Emus are feathered dinosaurs that have existed in their present form for at least 2 million years. In contrast, anatomical­ly modern humans have existed for only about 160,000 years. Emus have survived two brushes with extinction because of humans and are currently confrontin­g the existentia­l threat of climate change. Probably, they will survive us. Certainly, their collective dignity is undiminish­ed by human mockery, despite the antics of humans who laugh at the frantic behavior of traumatize­d captives such as Emmanuel and the emus misused by Liberty Mutual for its commercial­s.

We could learn a lot from emus, whose flexibilit­y, persistenc­e and cooperativ­e culture have helped them to flourish despite changing circumstan­ces, including a war in which Australian farmers used machine guns to try to drive them from their homelands. To this day, they have not ceded those lands. Nor have they consented to be held perpetuall­y captive and forcibly bred for human amusement and profit. Their captors cannot speak for them.

Before it’s too late, let’s respect and learn from emus and other nonhuman elders who might know things about the world that we cannot yet see. Let’s have empathy, too, and release the captives to sanctuarie­s or the wild.

Pattrice Jones, Springfiel­d, Vt.

Thewriteri­scoordinat­orofvinesa­nctuary,amultispec­ies

communityt­hatinclude­semus.

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