Penny, A Curious Ostrich
While enjoying the Fort Wayne Children Zoo’s African Savannah, you may have encountered a large, long necked bird running on two legs. Penny the ostrich loves interacting with guests and is one of the most curious and well-known animals at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo!
Penny can often be seen interacting with the other animals in the savannah, as well as with her Zoo Keepers, and is always looking for something new. Penny’s curiosity is fitting for this young ostrich of only 13 years old and, as a species that can live between 50 and 60 years old, she still has much to learn and explore!
At the Zoo Penny enjoys corn, her favorite food, but is not opposed to trying to find out what her friends are eating as well. Penny has been known to sometimes try to grab a snack when other birds, like the Griffon Vultures, are being fed during their daily Vulture Chat at 3:30 p.m., which is located in the savannah lookout just pass the giraffes. This is one of the best times to find Penny, as she comes to investigate what the vultures are being fed, giving guests an up-close look at her.
Penny enjoys running across her spacious enclosure, often patrolling and looking out to see guests. In the wild, ostriches can run up to 45 miles per hour, making them one of the fastest running animals in the wild. Ostriches use this impressive speed to escape their predators as they are far too heavy to fly, being the largest and heaviest bird species in the world. In fact, even just a few months after being born, ostrich chicks are capable of keeping up with their parents’ impressive speed.
Although ostrich eggs are not quite as big as the ones we have for display, we do recommend stopping by on your way to the Savannah Lookout for a picture inside these gigantic shells. Ostrich eggs are the largest in the animal kingdom, usually around 6 inches long and weighing in at 3 pounds. Guests can even view the size of these giant eggs in person with the Zoo’s model right outside of the Zebra Research Station. Ostriches are no stranger to company, having been recorded forming large flocks of even hundreds of other ostriches to help raise their young together and protect themselves. Although Penny is the only ostrich in the savannah enclosure, she is friendly with the wildebeest, zebras, vultures, and the occasionally group of geese who share her space with her. Penny is also constantly investigating her own habitat, either looking for new things to eat on the ground or coming up to the guest lookout points to see her visitors.
Next time you plan your visit to the Zoo, see if you can catch any of these natural behaviors displayed by Penny in her habitat or even see her up close at one of the many African Journey lookout points.
Written by Miles Fedders, Communications Intern