An ostrich found wandering the streets of Jerusalem neighborhood Gilo on Sunday was just the latest peculiar animal sighting the country has witnessed in 2015.
The outgoing year actually kicked off – on New Year’s Day no less — with three rhinoceroses escaping from their enclosure at the Ramat Gan Safari when a guard fell asleep on the job.
Then there was the case of an emu joining the traffic in downtown Herzliya, after the six-foot-tall flightless bird managed to escape its private owner for a spectacular run alongside speeding cars on a busy Herzliya road.
In May, the Zichron Ya’akov police were alerted to a crocodile on the loose in the community of Beit Hanania. Fortunately, for both residents and the creature itself, that incident ended without incident and the escaped reptile was returned to a nearby crocodile farm.
And then there was the affair of the lovesick porcupines – although in that case, the spiky wild suitor broke into the enclosure as opposed to the others who escaped out.
In the latest incident, the ostrich, who is thought to be around one or two years old and is already the height of a human adult, was spotted wandering the streets by passersby in Gilo. It was an instant Internet sensation, with people rushing to pet it, and take selfies.
A call to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo quickly revealed that it wasn’t one of theirs and it was later found to be owned by a private citizen who had bought the feathered bird as a chick at an unlicensed animal market in Kfar Qassem. He was raising it at home, unaware that it was illegal to own such a bird.
The ostrich now has a new home — the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.
“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,” Jerusalem Chief Veterinarian Dr. Asaf Brill told Ynet.
Almost all the escaped animals of the year were safely returned to their homes or to animal facilities around the country.
One unsettling incident of an escapee that remains an unsolved mystery, however, is the November disappearance of a six-meter-long Burmese python from the 101 Desert Oasis, a rest stop/zoo on the road to Eilat. Let’s hope it’s recaptured soon.