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Now that's a BIG bird!

During first year, as part of our clinical correlates course, we take care of an animal for a week in the fall and spring semesters. This semester I was assigned to take care of Zea, the ostrich. While many people were excited at the opportunity to take care of this exotic animal, I had my concerns. Ostriches can run extremely fast—up to 45 mph—and have a sharp nail on each foot that is quite capable of slicing a person open. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous. I was reassured by several fellow first years that it would be fine and that they had survived the experience.

I double-checked myself before walking in for any shiny objects—Zea loves to steal and eat them. The third year veterinary student that was in charge helped us to guide the 250-pound bird into a small exam area and started to explain the physical exam of the ostrich. Zea wasn't being a very cooperative patient though. The third year student couldn't understand why she was acting so agitated and decided to end the demonstration early, letting Zea back into her enclosure. Zea walked straight over to her water bucket and proceeded to start laying an egg! It was incredible to watch! The egg weighs 3–5 pounds and is the equivalent of two-dozen chicken eggs. The rest of the husbandry rotation was rather uneventful in comparison.

I don't know if I will ever treat an ostrich in practice, but I definitely have a cool story to tell from my first year of vet school!Ostrich