Birds of a feather splish splash together

19 November 2020

With the mercury rising above 30 degrees today, animals at Werribee Open Range Zoo have found natural ways to beat the heat.

Two of the world’s largest flightless birds, the ostrich and emu, traded the Zoo’s open plains and woodlands for a cooling dip in the nearby ponds.

Life Sciences Manager Meagan McPharlin said ensuring the Zoo’s animals have an easily accessible way to cool down is important throughout the year, and even more so in the warmer spring and summer seasons.

“We provide multiple ways for our animals to cool down over the hot months,” Ms McPharlin said. “The ponds and billabong are an easy, natural method and are maintained to empower animals like our emus and ostriches to cool off on their own terms.”

Ms McPharlin said anyone at home can do their bit to help local wildlife keep hydrated.

“We hope that when our visitors see this bathing behaviour they’re reminded to leave out shallow water baths in backyards or balconies for the birds that share their neighbourhood.”

The ostrich is the world’s largest bird, standing as tall as 2.7 metres. Their Australian ratite relative, the emu, is the world’s second largest bird, measuring up to 1.9 metres. Both flightless birds are also extremely fast sprinters, with ostriches reaching speeds up to 70 kilometres per hour and emus up to 50 kilometres per hour.

Werribee Open Range Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary re-opened to visitors on Thursday 29 October under the latest changing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions by the Victorian Government. Daily visitor numbers are capped and all tickets must be pre-purchased online. For more information, visit: