Ostrich

Ten Ostrich Chicks Hatch at Zoo Basel

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The Ostrich herd at Switzerland’s Zoo Basel has grown significantly with the hatching of ten chicks since December 20 to mother Manyara, age 21, and father Baringo, age 20. Manyara and Baringo shared the job of incubating their eggs, with the male taking the night shift and the female brooding during the day.  Their efficient system has been perfected over years of practice:  Manyara and Baringo have produced more than 110 chicks since 2000.  All the chicks were brooded and hatched naturally, with no incubators or human assistance.

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Photo Credits:  Zoo Basel

Ostrich chicks are precocial birds, beginning to gather their own food as soon as they hatch. Because food is scarce on the African savannah, wild Ostriches will eat whenever food is available.  In captivity, Ostriches will do the same, and have a tendency to become obese. As a result, it’s important for the zoo staff to carefully monitor the chicks‘ food intake. 

Obesity or overly rapid growth can have a negative impact on bone development in young Ostriches. Therefore, feed quantities for the baby Ostriches are tailored to the age and number of animals. Care is also taken to ensure that the feed has the ideal ingredients. For example, calcium – a mineral important for bone growth – is given to the animals via greens, shell limestone, and a special mixture of vitamins and minerals.  The chicks are also weighed regularly to monitor their healthy growth and development.   

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Ostrich Chicks Shake Things Up at The California Academy of Sciences' Earthquakes Exhibit

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The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco unveiled a new exhibit and planetarium show called Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet on May 26.  In addition to plate tectonics and preparedness, the exhibit covers how earth processes shape our landscapes and thus influence evolution over millions of years. That’s where the baby ostriches come in.

Earthquakes fit into the larger story of plate tectonics, a constant process that builds mountains, moves continents, and creates the landscape in which life evolves.  In the case of the ostrich, it and its closest relatives — other flightless birds like the emu, cassowary, kiwi, and rhea — are scattered today all over the Southern Hemisphere, on continents that are thousands of miles apart.  Yet they all evolved from a common ancestor, one that lived during a time when all the southern continents were joined together.  Their distribution today is evidence that the Earth’s landmasses have moved great distances in the past—a validation of plate tectonic theory. The ostrich chicks will be on display until late 2012.