Last Updated on January 19, 2023

Ostrich riding is a recreational activity in which people ride on the backs of ostriches, typically in a controlled environment such as an ostrich farm, or competitively.

Ostrich riding as a sport is however controversial and frowned upon by animal rights advocates, since ostriches are not physically strong enough to carry the weight of an adult human.

Despite rather niche and unpopular, there are a few places in the world where ostrich riding is more commonly practiced, such as in parts of South Africa, and especially in the city of Oudtshoorn.

Ostrich riding and racing in Oudtshoorn, South Africa.
People racing on ostriches in Oudtshoorn, South Africa.

In these regions, ostriches are more prevalent and are sometimes used for transportation or as working animals. However, ostrich riding is still not a common activity in these areas and is not considered a traditional or cultural practice, as it is mainly done for entertainment purposes.

Even in the US, ostrich riding is sometimes practiced for entertainment or as a tourist attraction. This activity is often offered as a novelty activity at farms or theme parks, where visitors can pay to ride an ostrich for a short period of time, although the practice has been steadily declining in popularity over the past couple of decades.

Ostrich races are also regurarly featured at fairs and equestrian sport exhibitions and events as an alternative and “exotic” form of entertainment, often paired with camel and zebra races. Ostrich riding as a sport is however often seen as unethical.

Is it ethical to ride on a ostrich

Ostriches are the heaviest and tallest birds in the world, but they are not domesticated animals and are not suitable for carrying human weight.

It is generally not considered ethical to ride ostriches, as it can be physically demanding and potentially dangerous for the rider, and ostrich riding can be extremely stressful and harmful for the bird.

Ostriches have a unique skeletal structure that is not suitable for carrying the weight of a rider. Their legs and are not strong enough to support the weight of an adult person. In addition, ostriches do not have a backbone that is suitable for carrying a rider, as their spine is flexible and adapted for running.

Respect weight limits

It is possible that some ostrich farms or other organizations that offer ostrich-related activities may set weight limits for sitting and riding on ostriches.

This weight limit is usually between 130 and 150 pounds (60 to 70 kg), which means most adult people are excluded from riding on a ostrich.

Children and smaller adults may however be able to sit or ride on a ostrich without hurting the bird, keeping in mind that ostriches are powerful and unpredictable animals that can behave erratically and being ridden goes against the animal’s natural instincts and behaviors.

Read more: Ostrich Riding, the Bizarre Sport You’ve Never Heard Of logo icon

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