A rodeo with ostriches
Riding the planet's largest flightless bird is like mounting a bronco, Erik Nilsson reports.
Mounting an ostrich isn't easy.
Staying on is even harder.
Visitors to Zhengzhou's Jinlu Ostrich Amusement Park don't get a saddle or stirrups when theyhop on the giant birds' backs.
They can only clasp fistfuls of plumage and pray, as they sway atop the creatures' swivelingshoulders.
Another thing - ostriches run.
As in up to 70-kmph. Lunging 5 meters each step.
(Makes sense if you can't fly or fight predators like cheetahs. You get great at skedaddling.)
Also - ostriches peck.
It's no accident African agriculturalists never domesticated the world's largest flightless bird.
Yet the park in Henan's provincial capital has - for both pleasure and practicality.
(The park began as Asia's largest ostrich-breeding base in 1997 before becoming one ofChina's weirder amusement destinations, starting in 2004.)
They've stunted their gates' velocity by shortening riding tracks. The scene resembles a rodeo. But in China. With ostriches.
(Ostriches and horses also race without riders along racetracks.) Weird thing is, bucking atop the planet's largest bird like it's a bronco is among the more, um,normal things about the park.
Guests can also visit an outdoor petting zoo with living and pickled animals, a
n imperial-themedhaunted house where dynastic officials hack each other apa
rt and a forest of robotic dinosaurs.