Skip to main content


Struthio camelus

Ostriches are the largest and heaviest of all birds. As its species name ‘camelus’ suggests, the ostrich was once known as the ‘camel bird’ because of its long neck, prominent eyes and sweeping eyelashes.

The ostrich is a flightless bird that is built to run. With its long and powerful legs it can cover distances with little effort and can reach speeds of up to 43 miles per hour. Ostriches can grow to around two metres tall. They can weigh up to 100 kilograms.

Contrary to popular belief, they do not bury their heads in the sand. However, when they are hiding from predators, they tend to lay their heads on the ground, stretching their necks out flat.

Belfast Zoo’s ostrich lives in a mixed African exhibit, with our Rothschild’s giraffes and Grant’s zebras.

IUCN red list status

The IUCN status of the ostrich is least concern.

The IUCN status of the ostrich is least concern.

For more info on classifications visit

Animal class


Conservation status

The IUCN believes the ostrich is not yet in danger of extinction in the wild. These birds are listed under Appendix I of CITES.


Savannah and grasslands


The population of ostriches seems to be stable, but numbers are unknown.


Omnivore. Ostriches eat mostly plant material but will also feast on insects and small lizards.