Ruffling feathers

The zoo's ostriches enjoy a dust bath. Photo: Supplied/Zoos Victoria 228371_01

The ostrich flock at Werribee Open Range Zoo is stirring things up in an effort to keep cool.

As temperatures climbed to above 30 degrees last week, eight female ostriches made the most of a fresh sand pad.

The birds ruffled their feathers and scooped their necks to produce a cooling cloud of sand and dust.

Zoo savannah keeper Ashley Field said ostriches cooled have a special method to regulate their temperature.

“Ostriches have a number of veins under their wings, so in summer they stretch out and circulate the cooling air and dust where it’s needed most,” said Ms Field.

“We refresh their sand pads regularly through the hot months to encourage the behaviour and provide another cooling option in hot weather.”

As part of the Summer with Wildlife initiative, Zoos Victoria has compiled a number of resources to provide Victorians with information on how they can help wildlife during summer and hot weather.

Ms Field said everyone could do their bit to help local wildlife stay cool and keep hydrated.

“We hope that when our visitors see the ways we care for our animals during summer, they’re reminded to leave out shallow water baths in backyards or balconies for the birds and small mammals that share their neighbourhood,” she said.

All visitor tickets to Werribee Open Range Zoo must be pre-purchased online. Details: