Zebra, Ostrich & Antelope Keeper Talk
10/12/2017, 2:30 PM to 2:45 PM
Weekly on Thursday
Africa Field Overlook, near Train map
Africa field is home to several species including Ostrich, Eland, Bontebok, and other antelope species.
The ostrich is the largest flightless bird in the world. They can run about 40 miles an hour covering 10-16 feet with a single stride. The ostrich will often use their wings as rudders to help change direction quickly while running. Ostriches will live in groups of about 12 birds. All the females of the group will place their eggs in the nest of the dominant female. A single ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs! Ostriches can often be found around other grazing animals like antelope and zebras. Ostriches have great eyesight and will often alert other animals of predators in the area. It is myth that ostriches head their heads in the sand. They will put their necks close to the ground to try and hide from predators, from a distance it appears that their head is in the sand.
Eland are one of the largest hooved animals in the world. They are very adaptable animals with the ability to live in all environments except deserts, forests, and swamps. They are some of the slowest antelope, running only 25 miles per hour. Eland will live in herds of up to 25. There may be more than one male but only the dominant male will have access to females for breeding. Calves are born after a 9 month gestation period and hide after they are born for protection.
The bontebok was nearly extinct in the wild but the creation of Bontebok National Park and breeding on game farms led to the current population of over 2,000 existing throughout southern Africa. Their current conservation status includes the closely related blesbok of which 250,000 exist. They graze during the day on grasses in small groups of about 10. Males will mark their territory with dung and participate in challenge rituals with neighboring males. Both males and females will grow horns.