An emu gobbled up a woman's expensive jewellery when she got too close to the bird while taking a selfie.

Ashna Ali was caught off guard by the large land-based bird at Sydney Zoo.

As the mum-of-two moved closer to 'Bert the Emu' she felt emboldened to take a snap of the pair of them.

Rather than posing obligingly, the world's second tallest bird breed lunged at her earlobe and snaffled her designer earring, which cost £280 from Tiffany.

Moments before the photo is taken Bert could be seen eyeing up the sparkly piece of jewellery - while Ashna stands completely unaware of what will shortly happen.

Bert the emu stole Ashna's earring
Bert the emu stole Ashna's earring

“You can see him eyeing my earring out,” Ashna told 9Now.

“I sat down and as I finished clicking, he just grabbed it, grabbed my ear, I felt a peck. That could have been my daughter’s eye.”

Ashna was able to show photos of the suspect bird to staff at the zoo and the brazen robber was identified.

Zoo employees reassured her that nature would take its course and that the earring would soon make its way out the other end of the bird.

They suggested she would be reunited with the piece of jewellery in a week's time.

The stolen earring cost £280
The stolen earring cost £280

After seven days sadly there was still no sign of the Tiffany earring, however the zoo stepped in and offered to pay for a replacement.

"Seven days has passed, the earring has not turned up which is not surprising, we've been in contact with Tiffany's who said they'll make another earring which will take roughly two weeks," said zoo manager Chris Rivett.

Emus can be notoriously assertive and confident animals particularly when they are used to interacting with humans at zoos.

It is advisable not to get on the wrong side of one.

They can grow up to 1.9metres, run faster than 30mph and go for weeks without eating.