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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dutch Curacao Has Largest Ostrich Farm Outside of Africa


With over 200 birds, the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao has the distinction of having the largest ostrich breeding farm outside of Africa 




If you've even driven around Curacao, you know street signs are non-existent - and on this day I was hopelessly lost, and hungry.

I had read about the Ostrich Farm, and knew they had an on-site African styled restaurant. Seeing the sign, I made the turn with the intention of having lunch, a cool drink, and getting directions back towards the capital city Willemstad


All photos from Travel 2 the Caribbean unless noted otherwise

Four hours later I realized this was one of the more interesting inter-active animal attractions I had visited in the Caribbean. We've all seen these big feathered birds on TV, however I had no idea just how BIG they are - thank goodness they are unable to fly! 



Did you know the ostrich is the world's largest bird?

Average weight of 220 to 350 pounds, and a wing span of aproximately 6 1/2 feet! Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man
 Photo Credit: nationalgeographic.com 




The Zambezi Restaurant was far more than expected. The attached "Art of Africa Shop" offers more high end and unique African art and craft items from Curacao and the Caribbean region. Photo Credit: http://www.ostrichfarm.net/

Along with South African cuisine, Zambezi offers ostrich burgers - steak - and croquettes. 

On this particular day the last thing on my mine was dining on ostrich - instead I opted for a delicious bowl of African pumpkin soup, along with a very tasty vegetable quiche. 

The atmosphere was very relaxing - after lunch and a little shopping, I decided on the Safari Truck Tour to view the grounds. The tour guides spoke both Dutch and English and were very informative. 




Aside from the Ostrich, huge pot-bellied Vietnamese pigs were sleeping in the shade, and I was surprised to see Barbados Black Bellied Sheep, which are often mistaken for goats. 

There is also a small croc pond, however the resident croc stayed under the water, and was barely in view.  And there are plenty of the local iguanas and Ameiva type lizards. Along the way everyone is invited to feed and touch the ostrich. 



These are the biggest eggs in the world weighing in at 3 pounds, and 6 inches in diameter. 

The tour ended with the tour guide giving us an education on ostrich eggs. We all were invited to stand on the egg to see how much weight it can withstand - and surprisingly no one broke the eggs while standing on them. 

For an additional charge, visitors can ride an ostrich. The older male birds are very aggressive, and young males or females are used for riding. 




Up close and personal! 
This large male followed the camera or perhaps it was the gold earrings I was wearing :)

Ostriches are fascinated by gleaming objects. We were told to take off any shiny earrings when feeding as the ostrich will rip it from your ear - Yikes!


The ostrich has the largest eye of any land animal
Its eye measures almost 2 inches across 


In Curacao the ostrich are bred and raised for human consumption. I was told ostrich tastes a lot like beef, has less fat along with being low in cholesterol, and high in protein and iron. Nothing goes to waste at the farm - leftovers are fed to the pigs and croc's - and ostrich bones, egg shells and feathers are used for crafts. 


What else I learned at the Curacao Ostrich Farm . . .

Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand when in fear - At the approach of trouble, ostriches will lie low and press their long necks to the ground in an attempt to become less visible. Their plumage blends well with sandy soil and, from a distance, gives the appearance that they have buried their heads in the sand

Ostriches have three stomachs. Lacking teeth, ostriches swallow pebbles to grind their food and an adult ostrich carries about 2 pounds of stones in its stomach


Not the smartest in the animal kingdom. That can be seen on The Ostrich Farm. The young animals in the chick pens are in rows next to one another, separated by a low partition. With their long legs it is possible to jump over … but they don’t do it because the idea of the possibility does not take shape 

Ostrich legs can also be deadly weapons, and can a kick can kill a human or a potential predator in the wild like a lion. Each two-toed foot has a long, sharp claw 

Take a look at the brief video from the Farm

 

http://www.ostrichfarm.net/


Happy Travels,
Linda
Travel 2 the Caribbean


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