Ostrich in viral video dies, owner says as DENR probes permits

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — One of two ostriches spotted running around a Quezon City village early this week and went viral died due to stress, the owner said upon surrendering the other animal to the government.

Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said on Saturday that a certain Jonathan Cruz handed over one ostrich to the Wildlife Rescue Center Friday afternoon.

“Sad to say, ‘yung isa raw namatay dahil sa stress (he said the other ostrich died due to stress),” Antiporda said.

Authorities asked the owner to attend a technical conference at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Monday.

“[This is ] to prove kung talagang namatay 'yung isa, una, pangalawa (first, if one ostrich really died and second), how did they end up in Mapayapa Village,” Antiporda said.

Antiporda said the owner presented a permit to transport the flightless birds from a province in Mindanao all the way to Nueva Ecija, but it remains unclear why they were brought to Quezon City "without securing the proper documents."

The owner lives in Barangay Balingasa in Quezon City, Antiporda said, while the ostriches were seen Tuesday in a private subdivision in Barangay Pasong Tamo, some 13 kilometers away. DENR personnel went to the village that day but they were denied entry as the guards insisted that the ostriches were captured and returned to the owner.

As videos of the ostriches circulated on social media, netizens poked fun at the unusual sight, but some also raised concerns over the welfare of the wild animals and if it’s legal to keep them.

Ostriches can be kept as pets, said Dr. Rona Rose Sinaon of the Biodiversity Management Bureau, but owners should secure a Certificate of Wildlife Registration from the department.

Republic ​Act 9147 states that possession of wildlife is illegal unless the person can prove "financial and technical capability and facility" to take care of the animal.

CNN Philippines' Carolyn Bonquin contributed to this report.