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Meeting MeeMoo the Emu

| Roane County, Roane Tourism

The McKinney Farm in Harriman, TN is a special place, but the McKinneys didn’t realize one of their feathered residents would reach worldwide fame. The McKinney family cares for a wide variety of animals, including ducks, chickens, cows, alpacas, dogs, pheasants, guineas, goats, geese, and even a peacock. But the one who captured the hearts of Harriman, Roane County, and the world was an unassuming emu named MeeMoo.

MeeMoo lived happily on the McKinney’s farm with his wife, MeeMee, until nearby logging frightened him on April 13, 2023. MeeMoo managed to escape over his 7 foot high fence and fled the farm. He headed toward downtown Harriman, where he led the Harriman Police Department on a 20 mile chase at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. With help from the community and law enforcement, the McKinneys were able to find MeeMoo. Owner Harry McKinney managed to put MeeMoo in his vehicle (with some help) and returned MeeMoo to his home at the McKinney’s farm.

“At first, when it happened, I was kinda embarrassed,” Harry said. But his initial embarrassment faded as the story of an emu being chased by police spread from Harriman to across Tennessee, the US, and the world. “It’s been in India, South Africa, Europe,” Harry’s wife, Dana McKinney, said. “We got a message that said Tokyo was all smiles,” Harry said. MeeMoo has also taken Southeast Asia by storm, as well as the UK. “We went on the Daily Mail, BBC, we did Take a Break Magazine,” Harry said. “It’s literally impacted the whole world,” he said.

MeeMoo has made the news across the world, including the UK.

To the McKinney’s surprise, MeeMoo also went viral in Australia. “We talked to people in Australia, and I thought, ‘no one in Australia’s gonna care because they have ostriches, and they have kangaroos, and emu,’” Harry said. “And I said, ‘what about the story made it go viral in Australia?’ They said, ‘you fool, you put him in the back seat!’ They said, ‘we would have never done that in Australia!’”

When asked why MeeMoo’s story captured the attention of the world, Dana said, “I think it’s people are looking for something happy. You know, something good. Because there’s so much negative in the world right now.” “It reminds people of innocent joy,” Harry said. Harry also believes the emus’ names boosted the story’s popularity. Dana explained how they named MeeMoo and MeeMee “Baby Face” and “Legs” since a group of emus is called a “mob.” These names were too hard for the McKinneys’ 2 year old nephew to say, however, so he called the duo “MeeMoo” and “MeeMee.” The name stuck.

The McKinneys are excited about the positive impact MeeMoo’s story is having on people across the globe. A children’s book titled “MeeMoo the Emu: The True Story of an Emu on the Loose” has already being published, and the book was read to kids at the historic Harriman Public Library by a police officer who responded to MeeMoo’s infamous escape. A teacher at a private school in Minnesota is now using the MeeMoo book in the curriculum for her students, and orphanages in Kolkata, India, also plan to use the book. The McKinney’s portion of book proceeds are donated to the Roane County Animal Shelter to help local animals needing homes. The McKinneys hope to continue to use MeeMoo’s story to impact others in the future.

“The thing about the story…is it’s not my story–it belongs to whoever reads it,” Harry said. Harry immediately realized the “story affects everyone differently.” “Messages started pouring in,” Harry recalled, “and the messages said things like, my son just went to prison, I’m in rehab for drugs and alcohol, I haven’t smiled in two months, and I’ve laughed solid for two days over the story.”

“You also have what’s happened with MeeMoo on the biblical side,” Harry said. The McKinneys have noticed similarities between MeeMoo’s story and themes in the Bible, saying, “the Lord used an emu, and the Bible came to life in people’s lives.” “The story as it is,” Harry said, recalling MeeMoo’s escape, “is a story where he gets scared, he runs aways, they chase him, and they reunite him with his father.” “There’s grace, there’s unity, there’s rules for [our] safety,” he said. Harry added, “we left the ninety-nine to get the one.” 

Like anyone suddenly thrust into the international spotlight, MeeMoo’s life is a little different than before. MeeMoo and MeeMee now receive lots of visitors from local organizations, including a kids camp, schools, and, of course, Roane Tourism. His usual day as a whole, however, is similar to before his famous escape. He starts each morning with breakfast, enjoys watching the other animals on the farm, and spends time with the McKinneys every day.

Learn more about MeeMoo and get your MeeMoo merch at, and be sure to follow MeeMoo’s adventures on Facebook!

One of MeeMoo’s chicks who hatched after the infamous chase

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