Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 5:11 pm | Fair 69º


Lenny the Emu Leaves the Nest at Peabody Charter School

After their egg-citing introduction, Santa Barbara fourth-graders say goodbye to the class mascot

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Peabody Charter School teacher Linda Stirling’s fourth-grade math class got an unusual addition Feb. 22 when the emu egg the students had been incubating hatched during the day’s lessons. On Wednesday, the month-old chick was subtracted from the equation and taken to a more appropriate learning environment for young emus.

Stirling’s students had watched the egg for 50 days before the chick came out of its shell. The students named their mascot Lenny, and the soft-feathered hatchling with the spindly legs had been wandering about the classroom for the past four weeks.

During his short time as an honorary student, Lenny quickly became the Big Bird on Campus. His face adorns T-shirts at the school at 3018 Calle Noguera in Santa Barbara, and he even was the inspiration for the fourth-grade jog-a-thon team, “Legs Like Lenny.”

But nature eventually takes its course and it was clear that Lenny was not likely to see fifth grade. For one thing, he’d be rather large for his age as emus reach full size — 6-foot-6-inches tall — by the time they’re 6 months old.

So Stirling and her students researched suitable places where Lenny might transfer, eventually settling on Ostrichland USA in Solvang.

“It was important to me that they understood when you take on an animal, you need to ensure its care all the way through,” said Stirling, who raises chickens at her San Roque home.

On Wednesday, Stirling and her students gathered around their mottled-brown feathered friend and shared stories about him as he ventured around the group, basking in the adulation and pecking for praise. Then they boarded a bus to Ostrichland and his new home.

Lenny should be happy at the zoo-like ranch at 610 E. Highway 246, west of Solvang. The facility boasts 50 emus and ostriches, which are distant cousins of the flightless birds from Australia.

“The kids were very sad as we left Ostrichland and came back to class,” Stirling said of her students.

The students are currently writing “Odes to an Emu” as a new class project to commemorate their teachable moment, she added.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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