Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years work within zoos.
World Ostrich Day was first celebrated in 2020 to raise awareness of the two remaining species of Ostrich. The second day of the second month was chosen because the Ostrich has just two toes on each foot. This day was chosen by Jade Tinker an ungulates keeper from Auckland Zoo.
There are two species of Ostrich, the Common (Red Necked) Ostrich and the Somali (Blue Necked) Ostrich.
The Common Ostrich Struthio camelus is common and so is of least concern whereas the Somali Ostrich Struthio molybdophanes is vulnerable as the region it inhabits is going through some political strife and there are bandit groups.
The Common Ostrich is now farmed worldwide for its meat, skin and feathers. In the 1980's Ostrich farming was seen to be a big investment but it largely failed. Just because you have a pair of birds doesn't mean they will breed. Ostrich racing takes place in South Africa and the US.
There were a number of Ostrich species and subspecies occurring elsewhere in Africa and Arabia but all are now gone. The last recorded Ostrich in Arabia was in the 1960's.
An Ostrich Depiction from Petra in Jordan
Are Ostrich Dangerous?
The answer is that they can be. For the most part they keep themselves to themselves but are reputed to kill large predators with a single kick. There are said to be around 5 human deaths by Ostrich annually.
In zoos there are many instances of keepers being chased and kicked by Ostriches. They are however quite easy to move. If you hood an Ostrich it can be easily moved.
Day to day Ostrich management is normally quite easy with these large birds becoming placid and familiar with their keepers.
Feathers, Leather, Meat and Eggs
The Ostrich feather was looked upon as a sacred object in ancient Egypt. From the late 1800's through to the 1940's feather boas were trendy and at times ...1920's were all the rage. These were mainly made of Ostrich feathers. They are quite popular for crafts today.
Ostrich leather is highly durable with a unique texture. It is used for the manufacture of handbags and cowboy boots.
The meat from Ostrich is still something of an exotic food but it appears more and more in the supermarket. Still classed as poultry but has more of a beeflike texture and taste.
You are unlikely to see Ostrich eggs in your local supermarket but they are eaten. You could probably buy one from your local Ostrich Farm. The shells are so thick that they take some getting into. They taste not unlike a chicken egg.
Today the Ostrich is the largest and heaviest bird in the world. A mature bird can weigh as much as 150 Kg and stand 2.8 meters tall. Incapable of flight it can run at speeds up to 70 Km per hour.
In the wild Ostriches may live into their 30's or 40's but in captivity they have been known to reach 70 years of age.
Ostriches are related to Emus, Rheas, Cassowaries and surprisingly the tiny Kiwi from New Zealand.
1/ The Ostrich is the only animal to have two kneecaps on each leg.
2/ The Ostrich is the only bird which secretes urine separately from faeces.
3/ Ostriches do NOT bury their heads in the sand.
4/ An Ostrich egg is equivalent to two dozen chicken eggs.
5/ Ostriches have the largest eyes of any land animal.
6/ The Ostrich has three stomachs.
7/ Whereas the Ostrich lays the largest egg in comparison to body size with other birds it is the smallest.
8/ Ostrich eyes are bigger than their brain.
9/ The Somali Ostrich was only recognized as a distinct species in 2014.
10/ Ostriches don't have sweat glands.
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