Taylor Blake, who has racked up millions of views on her TikTok account with funny videos of her pet emu named Emmanuel, has revealed that the beloved animal recently contracted avian flu.
Blake shared the news in a series of emotional tweets posted on Oct. 15.
“Hi friends. I’ve tried countless times to write this post, but it’s been extremely difficult for me,” she began. “We had a massive tragedy strike the farm, and I have been doing my best to wrap my head around it.”
In the past weeks, she said, almost every single bird on Knuckle Bump Farms - over 50 birds, including swans, turkeys, geese and other emus - has died.
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The caretaker and human documentarian said that she believes the rash of illness was caused by wild Egyptian Geese, who have flown into the farm multiple times despite being chased away.
“I cannot even begin to express the guttural feeling of watching innocent animals die,” she said. “Daily. Innocent animals that did NOT deserve to die. It’s even harder to swallow the fact that we did nothing wrong, it was not our fault, and there’s nothing we could’ve done to prevent it.”
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While Blake has contacted the state and followed protocols, she said it is “relatively impossible” to vaccinate her animals for avian flu because there are many mutations of the virus.
Blake said that emus Emily, Eliza and Elliot — who also made appearances in her viral videos — have died. Then, on Oct. 12, Emmanuel became ill.
In her announcement, she included a photo of her lying in Emmanuel’s coop while giving him a kiss on his head.
Blake said a vet treated him and she has been working tirelessly to help Emmanuel recover.
“Currently, he is stable,” she tweeted. “His neurological symptoms have subsided but he still won’t eat or drink on his own. I am hand feeding him & giving him subcutaneous fluids every 2hrs around the clock.”
However, Emmanuel is struggling with nerve damage in his right leg. Blake said she and her girlfriend researched how to build the emu a sling so that he can begin physical therapy.
She shared, “As of now, the only birds left on the farm are Emmanuel and Rico. Please say a prayer for us. Please keep us in your thoughts. It is an absolute miracle that he has made it this far, and I will never give up on him. The road to a full recovery will be long, but I am dedicated.”
At the end of the Twitter thread, she expressed her gratitude for the love and support Emmanuel has received. She also said that she will not give up hope.
She uploaded a sweet video of snuggling up next to Emmanuel and giving him a few kisses. “I love you so much, Emmanuel,” she said in the caption and included a crying-face emoji.
On Oct. 16, Blake posted a positive update to her Twitter page.
“Emmanuel Todd Lopez crushing his morning physical therapy!!” she captioned two photos that showed the emu standing up and smiling next to his caretaker.
Blake tweeted more news about his improvements in another post. She wrote, “When I did my 6am checkin with Emmanuel, I had him positioned lying down facing the gate to his stall. Just went back to do physical therapy with him and he was sitting up, completely turned around in the opposite direction. HE REPOSITIONED HIMSELF, BY HIMSELF! This is huge!”
Emmanuel continues to get stronger and can now put pressure on both of his legs and feet, she said.
The farmer has been sharing multiple pictures of the emu on Twitter and communicating with fans about his health. Emmanuel’s name started trending on the social media platform after users tweeted thousands of positive messages to Blake.
Emmanuel captured fans’ attention this summer when Blake uploaded videos of him adorably interrupting her as she tended to the other animals at Knuckle Bump Farms, a South Florida property.
“Emmanuel, don’t do it!” she hilariously shouted at the bird every time he would walk into the frame and attempt to knock her phone over.
Blake’s TikTok account, named after her farm, has over 2 million followers and more than 46 million likes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Avian influenza — also known as bird flu — can spread from wild aquatic birds worldwide and infect domestic birds and other animals.
“Bird flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with bird flu viruses have occurred,” the CDC reports.
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: