Bahawalpur Zoo has received a pair of ostriches as a gift from the Punjab Wildlife Breeders Association.
Reportedly, the zoo has got the two ostriches after a decade.
The ostriches are of a rare African kind and would normally cost between Rs0.8m and Rs1m if purchased from the market.
The arrival of the new couple of large birds was welcomed by the zoo visitors but it was the children who showed excitement over their arrival.
Ostrich enclave was a popular hangout place for zoo-visiting children. A five-year-old boy, Abdul Muqsit, who hailed from Bahawalpur, told The Express Tribune that he was excited to see the big birds that had arrived in the zoo.
He was clapping outside the enclave to draw the attention of the ostriches who responded by looking back at him and flapping their wings.
Another child had come to see the two ostriches on hearing about them from his mother. He shared, “I have never seen such a large bird before. I was told that it was a bird locally called Shutar Murgh, which was derived from the notion of a camel sized bird.”
The ostriches eat grain including grams, herbs, other plants and fruit.
Amrish, a 12-year-old girl who visited the zoo, said that she had not seen an ostrich before. “This is the first time I have had the opportunity to see ostriches in real life. I am very happy to see them. The people of Bahawalpur now have a chance to come see ostriches.”
She said that she had previously seen the large bird on social media platforms like YouTube. “After I saw videos of the bird online, I liked to see different kinds of birds and other animals. It is the first time that I have seen the large bird in real. I would like to keep an ostrich as a pet at home but my parents, like most others, will not allow that.”
Punjab Wildlife Breeders Association President Ameer Malik stated that this was a pair of a very rare breed of African ostriches. “If you import the large birds, the price and cost would be somewhere between Rs800,000 to Rs1 million.”
He added that the association had donated the pair of birds to make the visitors happy, especially the children.
Sources added that the reason behind the unavailability of other rare animals in Bahawalpur Zoo was lack of funds. This was stated as the main reason why that ostriches could not be purchased for such a long time.
Similarly, the elephant of Bahawalpur Zoo died about 15 years ago and there has been no replacement since then because there were no funds to purchase another.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2020.