We rescued Pea and Pod October 2014 when our team of Keepers retrieved a little orphaned elephant called Wass from Northern Kenya. On the dry and dusty Milgis airstrip, our Keepers were unexpectedly handed two orphaned ostrich chicks by KWS Rangers who knew we could offer them a safe haven. Travelling in the same rescue plane as Wass, it was therefore quite a surprise for the team in Nairobi when the trio were safely unloaded, who were expected only a little elephant. These two tiny ostriches with little quill like feathers have grown up in the company of our orphan elephant herd, and orphan infant giraffe Kiko. During time here at our Nursery, they have become very much part of the elephant herd, dwarfing their elephant friends after only16 months old. An adult ostrich can grow to over seven feet high, and Pea and Pod are not far off that.
As females, these inseparable sisters will reach sexual maturity between two to three years old and it is not uncommon for the hens to begin laying eggs around that time. Having grown up spending days in the forest with their four legged friends, each evening Pea and Pod happily take themselves back to the safety of their night stable, now situated between Ngilai and giraffe Kiko so weaning them off their elephant family will prove challenging. With this in mind we have been taking Pea and Pod along with their four legged friends on extended walks down onto the savannah plains of Nairobi National Park, where ostriches are naturally found on the acacia scattered grassy plains of beautiful Nairobi National Park. Nairobi is blessed to have such a beautiful National Park literally on its outskirts, and there are a healthy number of wild ostriches in this Park. It is our hope that with regular trips onto the plains, they will feel the call of the wild and eventually opt to spend their nights under the stars – and not in their night stockades.
Ostriches are grazing birds, enjoying a variety of succulent plants, fruits, grass and brush material, insects and lizards, and there is no shortage of food for them here. They are equipped with powerful legs which enable them to reach speeds of up to 40 mph, and because of these fearsome features, mortalities in adult ostrich are uncommon, although mortality rates with the chicks is fairly high.
Despite their fearsome demeanours, Pea and Pod have developed, with the onset of the rains, an aversion to raincoats, and if a Keeper should put a raincoat over his green dustcoat, he is met with great disdain. This is particularly unfortunate for the Keepers, who do not want to incur the wrath of these two now that they have grown so big, but understandably do not want to get drenched in the rains. For the time being, they have resorted to using their umbrellas, leaving their rain coats well alone this wet season!