Daphne

Daphne was a stagestruck emu that became a TV personality and frequently photographed animal ambassador.
  • 1970s
  • 2000s

Raised by trainers from a chick, Daphne was named before they discovered “she” was a “he” (determining a young bird’s sex isn’t easy!). However, the name stuck and the affable bird never seemed to mind. That easygoing attitude was Daphne’s hallmark. 

Throughout his 34-year run in Zoo shows, Daphne was unflappable in more ways than one.  Emus are flightless birds with exceptionally small wings compared to their body—they don’t flap them because they don’t fly. But Daphne was also unflappable in the face of just about any adversity. Once, he missed his cue to stop and walked off the stage and into the water-filled moat at the edge.  The surprise destination didn’t seem to faze Daphne, who paddled about as calm as a swan. Construction racket, flapping flags…nothing kept Daphne from taking the stage, a trait that made him part of the trainers’ A-Team.

During his career, Daphne rubbed wings with many celebrities. A special crate was created just for him to accommodate his travels to Hollywood to appear on “The Tonight Show,” “Dinah Shore,” “Merv Griffin,” and numerous other talk shows and local morning programs. One show’s producer arranged for Daphne and his entourage to spend the night before the show at the fancy Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. The fine-feathered star rode the glass elevator to their room—sans crate—much to the astonishment of other hotel guests.

Daphne dazzled offstage as well as on. His trainers took him for frequent walks and encouraged astonished Zoo visitors to stand beside the six-foot-tall star for a picture. Patient as always, Daphne stood stock still as excited families got into position and smiled with delight. He’s probably in more family photos than any other bird in Zoo history.

ZOONOOZ AUG 2003 (18-22)

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