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The story behind the pool noodle emu-dueling lawn mowing internet sensation in Midlothian

WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth logo WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth 7/29/2022 Kevin Reece

The Midlothian couple that has become an internet sensation, from Texas all the way to Australia, said the source of their fame is showing signs of calming down a bit. 

But a pool-noodle-armed husband will keep his defenses at the ready just in case Cosmo the emu decides to go on the attack again.

I should explain.

Toby and Michelle Wilson live on a quiet two acres in Midlothian, and like many parents, agreed to most of the requests from their children about what pets they wanted to have. So, the Wilson household is a menagerie of dogs and cats and cockatiels and hermit crabs. And when one daughter requested emus, they said yes to that too.

"Absolutely raised them in the house," Toby Wilson said of the flightless birds from Australia second in size only to an ostrich. "Swam in the pool with them. And just treated them like little dogs, kinda." 

Michelle even cut holes in some of Toby's socks so the baby emus could parade around the house in "diapers."

But now empty nesters, the Wilsons were left to deal with the menagerie on their own. Including the fact that the two "male" emus they purchased ... were not. 

Rocky, the second emu, turned out to be female. A clutch of eggs appeared next and Cosmo, the proud dad, suddenly began to change.

"He just snapped. At that point, I guess nature just took over and he snapped. And his whole intention was to protect those eggs," Toby Wilson said.

And that protective emu dad appeared most often when Toby Wilson was on his riding lawnmower trying to mow the pasture behind their house. Cosmo would run and attack anytime Toby Wilson got too close to Pebbles, the baby emu.

"It started getting funny because I kept watching him and watching Cosmo dart across the yard and try to attack him," Michelle Wilson said. "And so I said why am I sitting her wasting my time when I can record this and send it to my friends."

But her friends also included a growing audience on TikTok. Toby Wilson had discovered that if he took a pool noodle with him, he could joust and fend off Cosmo, get the yard mowed, and survive the ordeal unscathed.

"The idea was sound. The noodle was working," Toby Wilson said. 

A pool noodle hat, however, was not. 

"And the thought, the idea was to put the noodle on the hat so that it would kind of expand my radar signature right? But it wasn't that effective," Toby Wilson said.

But the comedy Michelle Wilson was recording on her phone was extremely effective. Millions of views online that led to appearances on CNN and even Australian TV.

"And before I knew it, my oldest was calling me asking me had I looked to see how many view I had. I said no. She said oh my gosh everybody's laughing at Dad. I'm like are you kidding me," Michelle Wilson laughed. "I hear people saying they saw it in other states or other countries. And I'm like, y'all got to be kidding me. It was just a video are y'all serious?"

"We got so many calls, it was craziness," Toby Wilson said. "Yeah I'm OK with it. Look, it's really she had fun, as long as she was having fun I didn't care, even if it was my expense."

"But he would hurt me if he could," Toby Wilson said of the protective Cosmo. "And my only intent was to mow the lawn and get out of there as quick as possible. And look, if that entertained people, great," Toby Wilson said as his wife laughed.

The good news in that two-acre Midlothian backyard is that, on our visit at least, Cosmo seemed to be calming down, not always as prone to attack. And Michelle Wilson, the apparent emu whisperer who was hugging and kissing Rocky when we were there, doesn't appear to be in any danger at all.

But Toby Wilson knows – and accepts the fact – that he might always be in danger of appearing in Michelle's next TikTok sensation.

"I'll be sitting here reading a book or something, and I hear some shenanigans going on. And I peak around the corner and she's filming a Tik Tok video about somethin'," Toby Wilson said as they both laughed.

Somethin' that millions fans of an emu-dueling pool-noodle-armed husband ... will definitely get to see.

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