Wide Open Spaces
Ostriches inhabit the open savannah or wide plains of northeastern and southern Africa.
In the wild, ostriches eat fruits, seeds, leaves, green plants and small vertebrates, but at the zoo, we provide a special ratite diet designed for these birds.
A truly “big bird”
Ostriches are the heaviest and largest living bird. The innermost toe of the ostrich is larger and bears most of the bird’s weight. Feathers are not designed for flight, as their surface resists airflow. Ostriches can use their wings to maintain balance while they run at high speeds. The male is glossy black with long white plumes on the wings and tail. The female is grayish brown.
Fast and sometimes furious
These birds are capable of running at speeds of 45 mph with 12 foot strides. The ostrich kicks when angry and can inflict serious injury.
All in the family
Male ostriches mate with several females. The male scoops out a shallow hollow for the eggs which weigh nearly 3 pounds each. One of the females incubates the 10 to 12 eggs during the day and the male takes over at night.
A social creature
Ostriches can be very gregarious and often forage together in groups for protection against predators. Groups of over 600 birds have been recorded gathering around water holes during the dry season.
Don’t believe everything you read
Contrary to the popular myth that ostriches hide their heads in the sand, this has never been documented. When confronted with danger, an ostrich may drop down to the ground and flatten its head and neck on the ground while remaining motionless. This increases the chances that a predator may overlook the bird. When ostriches are threatened, they prefer to use their great speed to run away.