SHE was the house-trained emu who left her family in Great Wakering in search of romance.

Sadly Beaky’s love story didn’t have a happy ending...she has died of a virus.

The five-year-old emu was hand-reared by Iain Newby at his wildlife centre, where she considered herself part of the family and was even known to settle down on the sofa and watch TV.

She left Great Wakering for an assignation male emunamed Lord Durham at Shuttleworth College, in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, last year. But their happiness didn’t last long.

Beaky died on Sunday night.

Mr Newby, who had hoped Beaky would enjoy her new life with her mate, said: “I was absolutely gutted when I heard she’d died.

“I couldn’t even speak when the college phoned and I’ve been in a daze ever since.”

Beaky hatched from an egg Mr Newby was given as a Christmas present.

He built a special incubator and watched in amazement as she not only hatched, but thrived.

She rewarded Mr Newby’s efforts by regularly providing the familywith super-sized eggs for breakfast, as well as becoming a companion to his six children and enjoying TV fame, appearing alongside the likes of Richard and Judy.

Once 7ft tall and fully grown, however, she was reluctantly sent to the college in the hope little emus might follow.

Shuttleworth College’s animal welfare unit is run by, and trains, professionals to care for animals, Animal welfare students looked after Beaky for more than a year, but she succumbed to the virus.

Mr Newby said: “She was so tame she used to sit in our front room on the sofa and watch TV with the kids.

“She was on TV on Richard and Judy, This morning and Blue Peter, because she was so tame. Emus don’t normally go near humans at all.

“She even featured on Australian TV, because they couldn’t believe she was so tame.”

Beaky died young for an emu – they can live to be as old as 60.