Nimble ostrich dazzles zookeepers with impromptu Cha Cha

15 April 2021

An animated ostrich with a case of happy-feet has surprised Werribee Open Range Zoo keepers with an extraordinary dance – reminiscent of a ballroom Cha Cha.

Filmed in action, Scratchy the ostrich greets her keepers by flamboyantly swaying her hips and feathery wings while making playful short-sharp steps, in a dazzling display of her natural behaviours.

Werribee Open Range Zoo Savannah keeper Lauren Irving said the vibrant, lively dance was an indicator of an ostrich’s excitement.

“It was almost time for dinner, so I was dropping off some goodies and also blowing some bubbles for the flock of ostrich girls, which they find really interesting and mentally engaging,” Ms Irving said.

“Scratchy was just so excited by what was happening - I guess she had to show it!”

Ms Irving said she loves working with and caring for Scratchy, who has a wonderful charm and character.

“Scratchy is such a lovely girl,” Ms Irving said. “She’s always so curious and keen to say hello anytime she sees keepers or members of the public visiting her on the Zoo’s savannah.”

Scratchy the ostrich greets her keepers by flamboyantly swaying her hips and feathery wings while making playful short-sharp steps, in a dazzling display of her natural behaviours.

Visitors to Werribee Open Range Zoo could potentially encounter the Cha Cha-inspired ostrich dance first-hand while on a daily savannah bus tour.

“I’ve seen the behaviour a few times now and it’s always wonderful to chat to visitors about Scratchy playfully dancing with joy,” Ms Irving said.

“Ostriches are so inquisitive and it’s always fun to be around them because they’re always keen to interact with and explore new things.”

The ostrich is the world’s largest bird, standing as tall as 2.7 metres. While they cannot physically fly, they use their wings like rudders to balance, steer and change direction. They are also the world’s fastest flightless bird and can cover as much as five metres in a single stride – providing them with some of the best physical traits to support their remarkable natural behaviours, including dancing.

Zoo members and visitors are reminded that all tickets to the Zoo must be pre-booked at zoo.org.au and asked to follow the current COVIDSafe directions at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus