Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park located here skirting the Tirumala hill base can now boast of having a pair of ostrich in its sprawling sanctuary.
The cute looking pair, procured from Tamil Nadu Veterinary University, Chennai, was brought to the zoo ahead of Deepavali and became a good draw at the zoo during the festival holidays. The two huge and long-legged birds, formally let into their enclosures in the midst of some VIPs, being strange to the campus tried to keep aloof and shy away from the visitors, especially the photographers when they tried to get a close snap of their heavily plumed bodies.
Ostrich is the largest flightless bird found in open dry grasslands of E. Africa, South Africa and in Sahara and they feed on seed, grass, plant matter and small invertebrates. Males have black feathers and females greyish brown and they have powerful eyesight and hearing sense.
According to a note released by Zoo chief Saravanan, ostriches being nomads, wander great distances in search of food and water and use their powerful legs to kick their predators. An ostrich which weighs anywhere between 63 and 130 kg can run up to a speed of 70 km per hour. They mature at the age of 2-4 years and are polygamous. Male birds maintain a harem of 3-5 females and all females of the harem lay eggs in the same communal nest, the note added. The ostrich egg is the largest, each weighing 1.5 kg. The incubation period is 35-45 days and the eggs are incubated by female during day and by males during nights, even as the survival rate is low. Their life span is around 40-45 years and their predators are jackals, mongoose, cheetah, lion, wild dogs, leopard, hyena etc.