Ostrich in exhibit

Ostrich

Scientific Name

Struthio camelus

Geographic Range

Sub-Saharan Africa except the forests of the Congo River Basin

Diet

Plants, roots, and seeds (less frequent: insects, lizards, and other prey)
Ostrich in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: LEAST CONCERN IUCN Conservation Status: LEAST CONCERN

About This Animal

Ostriches excel at superlatives. They are the largest, heaviest living bird species. They have the largest eyes of any land animal, and their eggs are the largest eggs found on the planet today. They’re also the only bird with two toes. Males have black-and-white feathers, while females are sandier and paler in color. Males can grow up to 9 feet tall and weigh 287 pounds.

Ostriches reside in savannas and deserts in sub-Saharan Africa, where they can sprint at speeds of up to 43 miles per hour in short bursts. They can also maintain a steady speed of 31 miles per hour. If running away isn’t an option for defense, ostriches can kill predators as large as lions by kicking them with their strong legs.

These flightless birds live in herds which have a dominant male, a dominant female, and other females. The male can breed with any of the females and non-dominant females can mate with passing males as well, but all eggs are laid in the nest of the dominant pair. A clutch usually consists of 7–10 eggs, which weigh 3 pounds each and are 6 inches long. Young ostriches become nearly as large as their parents by six months of age.

Did you know? Contrary to popular myth, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the ground. They do flop their head and neck flat on the ground, though, which makes it appear that way.

Although ostriches are considered common within their African range, their population was impacted by the 18th-century hat industry. Their numbers and range continue to decrease.

Animal Care staff working with seal

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Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

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