Common Ostrich

Pete and Dorothy are Common Ostrich which are the world's largest, flightless, bird. Pete is fairly passive for an Ostrich, except for when it's mating season. You can tell when this is because his beak and legs turn a deep red. When this happens he begins to display to Dorothy which involves dancing around, waving his wings alternately. He seems keen to mate, but Dorothy has yet to show any real interest. We hope she will though! You have to be very careful on their extremely powerful legs which they use to kick threats. Kicks from Ostrich have been know to kill.

Ostrich are related to Rhea, who you can see over in our South American Paddock. Ostrich are obviously a lot larger. As with the Rhea, the Ostrich feather is highly prized, and Ostrich are actually farmed for their feathers. Their skin is also used for leather, and it's meat is sold. Ostrich burgers are becoming more common, popular due to their leanness. People do also eat Ostrich eggs, which are the largest in the world. In some parts of the world like Africa and Florida in USA, they are ridden using a saddle, reins and a bit but horses are much easier to manage!

Female Ostrich lay eggs in a nest made by a male, along with the eggs of other females he has mated. The dominant female does however discard the eggs of lesser females, as Ostrich can tell their own eggs apart from those of others. The females will incubate them in the day, and the males by night, and it is the male who defends and teaches the hatchlings, although they are raised cooperatively between the males and females.

Adult male Ostriches can reach as tall as 9 ft 2 in, ranging to that height from about 6 ft 11 in, and can weigh up to 346 lbs, that's as much as two adult humans! The females range between 5 ft 7 in and 6 ft 7 in tall. In captivity an Ostrich can live for up to the age of 62 so they are very long living.

They like to eat grass and other plants, as well as insects, and live in groups of between 5 and 50 birds. These groups are nomadic which mean they roam around. They have the largest eyes of any land vertebrate which means they can see predators from a long way away, but they also have a rather small head for a bird that size! When running away from a predator they have been known to reach speeds of over 43 miles per hour which makes then the fastest animal on two legs in the world. As a hiding technique they lie down on the ground with their head on the ground which makes them look like a mound thanks to the hot atmosphere of their habitat.