Back in March 2003, the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch became home to four ostriches—one male and three females—confiscated by the Houston SPCA. After cruelty investigators from the SPCA received a call by a concerned neighbor about an abandoned property, they arrived on the scene to find ostriches, pigs, ducks, and other animals in mud, filth, and trash—with no access to food, water, or shelter. The animals had been living in squalor for an indefinite period of time.
The four ostriches were walking in mud up to their knees. Malnourished and thin, they had lost all their feathers from stress and parasites. It took hours to calm the frightened birds and carefully load them into a trailer to be taken first to the Houston SPCA, and then on to the ranch. The case was featured on Animal Planet's TV show, "Animal Cops."
Home on the Ranch
The newly arrived ostriches were placed in a pen with shelter, food, and water where they could be observed during their recovery. When the birds' feathers grew back and they gained enough weight, they were released into the larger pasture to join other ostriches as well as deer, goats, llamas, and alpacas.
Ranch staff named the fully-grown, adult, male ostrich Don Juan because he was constantly surrounded by seemingly adoring females—Yvette, Yolanda, and Yesenia. Around eight-feet-tall and weighing more than 300 pounds, Don Juan uses his long legs to run 30-35 miles per hour at short distances. The females, though slightly smaller, match his speed. Though both sexes may appear fluffy and harmless, ostriches are quite dangerous and can deliver powerful—and sometimes fatal—kicks to other animals, including humans.