Israeli drivers on a highway on the outskirts of Tel Aviv were left pondering, 'why did the emu cross the road?' when they spotted one of the giant birds sprinting alongside their vehicles on Sunday morning.

The emu, which can sprint up to 31mph and can measure almost two metres in height, continued to run as the shocked drivers came to a stop at a red traffic light near a shopping mall in the Israeli city of Herzliya.

According to Israeli media, concerned onlookers, backed by municipality workers who were called to the site, managed to capture the bird near the Shivat HaKochavim shopping centre.

Reports also said that the bird, which was thought to have run away from a nearby farm, was subsequently returned to its owners.