Ostrich nabbed for strolling Jerusalem streets


Jerusalem residents found the unaccompanied avian’s stroll highly amusing, with several of them taking pictures of, and with the ostrich, after she escaped from her owner’s home.

By Yael Freidson & Roi Yanovsky


Employees of Jerusalem’s veterinary service caught an ostrich that was walking freely through the Israeli capital’s Gilo neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo checked and found that no ostriches were missing, meaning the bird must have escaped from a person who was privately raising it without reporting the fact to city authorities.


The ostrich in the streets of Jerusalem. – Photo: Shlomi Hazut

Jerusalem residents found the incident highly amusing, with several of them taking pictures of, and with, the ostrich.

Gilo community administration head Ofer Ayoubi said of the incident: “This time the incident ended peacefully, but the public needs to know that ostriches aren’t pets, but dangerous animals. They have strong legs and claws, and might attack humans. Children came out of school to pet it and people took pictures with it, and they could have been hurt.”

Head of the Jerusalem veterinary service Dr. Asaf Bril told Ynet: “We received a call at our center about an ostrich in the Gilo area. The owner claims that the ostrich came to him as a chick from Kafr Qasim, from an unlicensed animal market. He raised it without the knowledge of the municipal authority or veterinary service. This is the first time in my life that I’ve run into something so bizarre – I’ve been in this position for 11 years and haven’t run into something like this.

Animals like parrots and iguanas escape, but those are animals that people usually raise,” he said. “An ostrich is a wild animal, protected on one hand and dangerous on the other. An animal that reaches a weight of hundreds of kilograms – a kick from it can kill a person.”

According to Dr. Bril, the ostrich is estimated to be one or two years old. “It was about the size of a human,” he said. “An adult ostrich reaches a height of 2.5 meters.”

Photo: Noa Tamar

Dr. Bril mentioned that the owner will be questioned by authorities and handled accordingly, since raising such an animal without a permit is a crime. “Wild ostriches have disappeared from view in our land,” he said “Ever since the start of the 20th century, ostriches have been raised either in zoos of in farms, like the ones at the Sea of Galilee and the Tze’elim area – for the purposes of commerce and with the permission of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Private breeding is forbidden and illegitimate. Residents who run into such cases of wild animals should not approach them and should inform the authorities in Jerusalem and the police.”

The Jerusalem Municipality said in response: “The ostrich that went out on a walk through the Gilo neighborhood was captured by the veterinary service and its owner, who lives in the neighborhood. The owner told the veterinary service inspector that he bought the ostrich (a female) as a chick in an unregistered sale in a Kafr Qasim market and raised it ever since, without the knowledge or approval of the municipal authority or the veterinary service. Out of a deep care for its well-being, the municipal authority has coordinated its transfer to the Biblical Zoo, where she will receive the dedicated care of the professional staff.”


View original Ynet publication at:




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