The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park are temporarily closed. For assistance, please ask our Chat Bot, or click here to email us.   READ MORE ▸

To support the wildlife in our care, make a gift today.   DONATE ▸

Panorama of a Safari Park field exhibit with giraffes, water buffalo, and rhinos


White rhino with calf


Although the Zoo and Safari Park are temporarily closed, our team of dedicated specialists continue to care for the animals and plants that depend on us each and every day.

Your continued support is more critical now than ever before and will provide a vital lifeline to the wildlife in our care.




The ostrich is the largest and heaviest living bird. A flightless bird that can never take to the skies, it’s built for running. Its long, thick, and powerful legs can cover great distances without much effort. Ostrich feet have just two toes for greater speed. When threatened, an ostrich runs away or defends itself with a forceful kick.

Why the wings? The ostrich holds its wings out for balance when running, especially if it needs to change direction suddenly. The wings are used most often, though, for displays and courtship. To show dominance, an ostrich holds its head up high and lifts its wings and tail feathers. To show submission, the head, wings, and tail droop down. An ostrich’s feathers are loose, soft, and smooth, giving the bird a shaggy look.

Look for these large denizens of Africa during an Africa Tram tour or Caravan Safari.

Free! Living Legends - San Diego Zoo 100. Help save wildlife in our newest puzzle game.