In many ways, the emus are a welcome distraction in a tiny town in Australia's vast Outback. Raised by an animal rescuer, the birds – siblings Kevin and Carol — are a friendly and wide-eyed source of entertainment . But then the emus learned to climb the stairs.

The new skill gave the birds access to the pub of the Yaraka Hotel in Queensland. Once inside, they unleashed a long-legged brand of chaos. They snatched toast and French fries away from customers. One of the birds even went behind the bar. A stern response was required.

"Emus have been banned from this establishment for bad behavior," a sign now states at the stairs leading to the hotel's pub. The message asks any human visitors to replace the "emu barrier" when they enter.

"We put the sign up, but we're not quite sure whether they're able to read or not," hotel co-owner Gerry Gimblett says in an interview with 10 News First Queensland. "So, we've had to put a bar across there, as well."

The emus have been popular with visitors – they've learned that posing for a photo often means a reward of a quick snack, says Gimblett, who owns the hotel with her husband, Chris.

"The interesting thing is when people are making toast in the annex, a head comes across, takes the toast and gobbles it up as it pops," Gimblett tells the Brisbane Times.

Despite the birds' transgressions, Gimblett says she's glad Kevin and Carol have stuck around — two survivors of a nest full of eggs that was found abandoned. All their brothers and sisters have since moved on.

The pair have endeared themselves to the locals and visitors alike. Until recently, Gimblett says, the emus had been kept at bay by cordons that were erected around the back of the hotel. Then the birds worked out how to use the three stairs leading up to the pub's patio.

"We didn't think they could climb stairs," says Leanne Byrne, the Yaraka resident who raised Kevin and Carol, in an interview with the ABC. The animals made several cameos in that segment, lunging in front of the camera to grab pieces of bread.

Now, Gimblett says, she's hoping the birds won't figure out how to maneuver, limbo-style, under the rope and up the stairs.

Crowding isn't normally a problem in the pub. After all, Yaraka has a population of fewer than 20 people. But as is often the case with wild animals, there are other issues – literally.

"If they had control of their bowels" the emus would be welcome inside, Gimblett tells the ABC.

"They're a tad incontinent," Byrne agrees.

Even with the chance of foul behavior, Yaraka's emus are generating interest online from people who say they want to visit the Outback town. Many also say they're thankful for a bit of avian comic relief.

"The Country is needing this with our Covid crises," a visitor to the hotel's Facebook page wrote. "The ABC journalist could not stop laughing, and nor could I."

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