An ostrich ran amok Tuesday inside, well, the usually peaceful Mapayapa Village in Quezon City. A video of the sprinting bird quickly went viral online, inspired memes, and later in the day was followed by another video: of another ostrich being barred from exiting a village by a security guard.
It was all fun and games until people started asking: what is a wild animal like this ostrich doing in the middle of the city?
“Wild animals should not be kept as pets,” said the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in a statement posted this morning on its Facebook account. “The runaway ostrich incident may have given the public a good laugh; but it could have resulted in serious injuries in both the humans who tried to capture them and the animals, who were scared.” PAWS is a non-profit organization whose mission is to prevent cruelty to animals.
What the incident also shows, according to the PAWS statement, is how lax government systems are when it comes to giving permits to people requesting to keep wild animals for pets. The urban residential setting is, first and foremost, not an ideal place for such creatures. “Loud sounds and being near roads or running vehicles cause ostriches great stress,” says PAWS.
“The ostriches in the video were confused and terrified. The birds could have easily been injured or could have caused harm when they were cornered. The ordinary citizens who attempted to capture the animal were probably not aware that ostriches can inflict lacerations with their sharp toe nails or break human bones with one powerful kick.”
Yes, we may enjoy feeding these animals, marvel at the sight of our kids amused by them, but according PAWS, keeping these wildlife as pets in our homes—robbed of their natural environs—cause them a great deal of misery. “A wild animal's needs can never be sufficiently met by its keepers. Ostriches, for instance, aside from a special diet, need at least 1,100 square meters of space and extremely tall fencing to prevent escapes.”
The ostriches in the video also appeared not to be in the best of health, observed the PAWS statement, citing their grimy feathers and bald spots.
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The organization says a wildlife permit holder is “required to have a wildlife veterinarian check regularly on the animals.” PAWS is also calling out the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to revoke the permits of those who continue to have wildlife in their properties but are unable to care sufficiently for the animals—and to have stricter policies when it comes to Issuing permits.