Esmerelda the Emu, and family, in need of financial support

Published 5:24 pm Saturday, January 20, 2024

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

CALERA – Calera’s celebrity emu, Esmerelda, and the other animals owned by Sue Sanford, are in need of fundraising help as Sanford seeks to relocate them from their current property.

In a GoFundMe page created on Saturday, Jan. 20, owner Sue Sanford described her current situation as one requiring “immediate help.”

Sanford, who owns and cares for Esmerelda and Ursula, as well as other animals on her property, has been disabled since 2019. For years now, she has cared for and raised her animals on the property she is now leaving.

“I live in a place where I’ve had no water for four years,” Sanford said. “I also live on this rocky mountaintop that has about a quarter mile long road full of giant ruts. You basically just about need four-wheel drive to get up here, which is making it really hard to move.”

Due to these factors, the property is not entirely welcoming to her medical situation. Sanford, a self-described animal lover, has had to haul water, by herself, to her animals due to the water issues and has had to combat a road that is intermittently impassable in rough weather conditions.

Since having been declared disabled, it has been Sanford’s intention to relocate to a more welcoming area with her animals and was already well into the process of doing so. However, according to Sanford, the situation has recently taken a turn that has left her with no alternative other than turning to the community for aid.

“My goal was to get off this hill and get somewhere decent, with water and easier access to my property in order to take care of my animals,” Sanford said.

That initial goal was achieved earlier this year when Sanford found a piece of land and made the move to purchase it. It was a deal that required her put in a large down payment to make the monthly payments affordable. However, providing that lump sum, coupled with several other emergency situations, has left Sanford with little immediate funds remaining to put toward the construction of fencing and utility installations on the new property.

“I have put all the household work on hold and am just concentrating on getting it ready for the animals,” Sanford said. “I’ve been working on it steady but have had absolutely no help at all. I’m doing everything by myself and there’s lot of things, unfortunately, now that I’m disabled, that I can’t do (like I did) when I moved here 20 years ago.”

Sanford’s new property features 12 acres housing four pastures. For two of the pastures, she has already acquired all of the necessary fencing materials, but has been unable to dig the post holes and erect the fences by herself. To accomplish that task, Sanford says that she will need help. Until then, the pastures will not be fit to safely house Esmerelda and the other animals.

In addition to those two, she must also still acquire the materials to fence the additional two other pastures.

Currently, Sanford says she needs $800 more in fencing supplies in order to finish enclosing the pastures and would like to hire help for the aspects of the project she is physically unable to handle.

“I have been trying so hard to get this done, but just need a little help and don’t want to bother anyone,” Sanford said. “I’m not asking for any money to work on my house or to go buy things with other than fencing and the gas, I just need to get my animals moved.”

Therefore, Sanford has turned to establishing a page on to raise the emergency relocation and fencing funds. She has listed her fundraising goal as only the $3,000 she expects it will take to purchase and install the fencing and the transportation expenses it will take in relocating her animals.

Within the first several hours of the fundraiser’s start, she had already received at least 7 donations from the community amounting to $570.

Those interested in donating to the cause of relocating Esmerelda, Ursula and Sanford’s other animals and ensuring they have a new place to live can visit the GoFundMe page at