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Ostrich

Struthio camelus

Ostrich

Ostriches are the largest and heaviest of all birds. As its species name ‘camelus’ suggests, the ostrich was once known as the ‘camel bird’ because of its long neck, prominent eyes and sweeping eyelashes.

The ostrich is a flightless bird that is built to run. With its long and powerful legs it can cover distances with little effort and can reach speeds of up to 43 miles per hour.

Contrary to popular belief, they do not bury their heads in the sand! However, when they are hiding from predators, they tend to lay their heads on the ground, stretching their necks out flat.

In October 2016, Ostrich chicks called Florence and Tammy joined our Ostrich flock.

Belfast Zoo’s ostriches live in a mixed African exhibit, with our Rothschild’s giraffes and Grant’s zebras.

Habitat
Savannah and grasslands

Diet - Omnivore
Ostriches eat mostly plant material but will also feast on insects and small lizards.

Size
Ostriches can grow to around two metres tall. They can weigh up to 100 kilograms.

Location
Ostriches are usually found on the short grass plains and arid savannahs, of sub-Saharan Africa.

Conservation status
The IUCN believes the ostrich is not yet in danger of extinction in the wild. These birds are listed under Appendix I of CITES.

Threats
Ostriches are threatened by the destruction of the habitat. They are also hunted for their feathers and skin and their eggs are taken by other animals and by humans.

Current population
The population of ostriches seems to be stable but numbers are unknown.

Zoo population
There are more than 1,200 ostriches in zoos across the world.

Keys to acronyms

CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature

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