Posted June 2019
The Milwaukee County Zoo welcomes two female ostriches to its recently opened Adventure Africa mixed species habitat! The Zoo has not displayed ostrich since 2012, so it should generate excitement for the new ostriches to make their debut. The two birds will be part of the Impala Plains exhibit which includes impala, African crowned cranes, and zebra.
An ostrich is recognizable by its large size, long legs and neck, and small head. Adult male ostriches are black and white, while adult females and juveniles are grey-brown and white. An ostrich’s legs are covered in scales, showing its dinosaur ancestry.
Ostriches break a lot of animal “records.” They are the largest and heaviest species of bird. Unlike most birds, ostriches cannot fly. However, they can run; sprinting up to 43 miles per hour, making them the fastest bird on land. They also have extremely long eyelashes that protect their huge eyes, which are larger than the eyeballs of any other land animal. In fact, an ostrich’s eyeball is larger than its brain!
Ostriches are omnivorous, typically feeding on plants, roots, and seeds, but will eat other sources, such as bugs and lizards.
Because of their dry environment, ostriches get most of their water from the plants they eat.
Although their range used to span from southwestern Asia, to the Arabian Peninsula, to Africa, they have been hunted to extinction in all areas besides sub-Saharan Africa. However, their population has stabilized in recent years. In the wild, ostrich flocks often interact with grazing animals like zebra and antelopes—similar to the Zoo’s mixed species habitat.
The two new ostrich are distinguishable based on size and height. One is shorter and heavier, while the other is taller and lighter. Both should be on exhibit for visitors to see by mid-June.
Adventure Africa is located on the south end of the Zoo near the giraffes, harbor seals, and polar bear. When you’re in the area welcoming the new ostrich, be sure to check out the Elephant Care Center, a new 20,000-square-foot indoor facility for our African elephants!