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"We are heartbroken": Golden Gate family recounts the last moments with their emu before he went missing

"We are heartbroken": says one Golden Gate family as the search continues for their pet emu
Posted at 10:22 PM, Nov 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-21 22:22:29-05

GOLDEN GATE, Fla. — One Golden Gate family is heartbroken more than a year after their pet emu went missing.

The Zurita family is not your typical family with chickens, goats, and emus, they are an attention grabber for anyone driving near Everglades Boulevard in Naples.

On April 15, 2022, Marcela Zurita says it all changed.

"He was with us in the morning. It's just that we didn't notice until the time we came back home.”

Their pet emu, Merlin, was missing and still is more than a year later.

"He'll be the first one to greet me when I used to come from work whether it was a stressful day, whether I was having a bad day, he was still there waiting for me,” said Zurita.

Zurita says she immediately went out to look for Merlin and found feathers across the street.

She says she began posting on Facebook and almost immediately received more than 20 leads on Merlin sightings, which she says she followed up on each one.

More than a year later, Zurita says their other emu, Petunia, is missing her partner and a large void remains in their family.

"He thought he had a place just like you and I where he could just walk," said Zurita. "He was innocent. He didn't know there's people that can do this.”

Zurita posted these fliers on Facebook and in local businesses:

Golden Gate family's emu still missing more than a year later
Golden Gate family's emu still missing more than a year later

She says she is offering up a $5,000 reward for Merlin's return and is keeping hope that someone will do the right thing.