South african ostrich

Struthio camelus australis

An ostrich in the Hellabrunn Zoo stands on a rock on its dock. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Least concern
  • Family
    Ostriches (Struthionidae)
  • Weight
    115 – 130 kg
  • Habitat
    Savannahs, grass- and scrublands

Fast runner

The ostrich belongs to a group of flightless birds known as ratites. They lack suffi cient wing and chest muscles to lift their massive weight off the ground. Instead, they use their wings for balance, courtship displays and regulating body temperature. To make up for their inability to fly, ostriches have powerful legs. The 2.5 m tall bird can maintain a steady speed of 50 km/h for about half an hour and has a top speed in excess of 70 km/h.

Oh, what an enormous egg!

Ostriches lay the largest of all eggs. However, in proportion to body size they are by far the smallest of all birds! Despite this, at ca. 1.8 kg, the ostrich egg is quite impressive: its weight corresponds to that of about 25 chicken eggs. Equally impressive is the unhatched chicks’ ability to communicate through the eggshell with the parents by means of beeping and thus synchronise their hatching.

When danger is sensed, the ostrich hides from predators by laying its long neck and head flat on the ground, allowing its plumage to blend with the sandy soil.