By Elsie Moore,2015-03-23 07:42
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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.

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