HOW TO SURVIVE AN ENCOUNTER WITH AN OSTRICH
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- •An ostrich attack is straight out of Jurassic Park.Like that movie's velociraptors, ostriches are fast--they can run at up to 45 mph (72 km/h)--and they have a sharp nail on each of their feet that is capable of slicing a person open with one kick. Unlike velociraptors, however, an ostrich can reach more than nine feet tall and 350 pounds.
- •When hiking or working near ostriches, you should always be aware of your surroundings and the nearest place you can run to safety.Head for a building, a car, or a high fence or tree that you can scale (ostriches can't fly). In the wild, go into a thorn bush if you have to; you'll get scratched up pretty good, but an ostrich won't pursue you into thorns.
- •Put something between you and the ostrich.If you can't make it to safety, grab a long pole and hold it in front of you. Since you don't want to have to find something like this while you're being attacked, it's best to carry an implement with you when there's a chance of an ostrich encounter. Keep in mind, however, that whatever pole, tool, or branch you choose must be strong and long enough to keep the bird's legs from reaching you.
- •Play dead.In a 1918 article in The Atlantic magazine, former President Theodore Roosevelt wrote, "If, when assailed by the ostrich, the man stands erect, he is in great danger." The bird will still likely stand on you--it's been described as dancing by some who've gone through the experience--and it may even sit on you for a while, but it will most likely not rip you open if you do this equivalent of burying your head in the sand.