Did you know that the ostrich is the world’s largest bird and that it can sprint at over 70kph, covering up to 5m in a single stride? Did you know that ostriches have three stomachs and because they lack teeth, they swallow pebbles to grind their food?
You’ll learn all these and more at Jelita Ostrich Farm in Port Dickson. This ostrich farm has been certified by the Malaysia Book of Records as the first of its kind in Malaysia. It is located on a 4.2-hectare land amidst lush green vegetation, facing a mountainous range.
How to Get There
If you’re coming from Kuala Lumpur, it takes about an hour drive to get to Jelita Ostrich Show Farm, which is situated along Jelebu Road. From Seremban town, it takes 15 minutes via Jalan Sikamat. Unfortunately, this place is not accessible by public transports.
The location of the farm is within the state’s Department of Veterinary site. To enter, you must go through their main guard house.
Address: Lot 1504, Batu 6, Mukim Pantai, Jalan Jelebu, 71770, Negeri Sembilan. (GPS: 2.765897, 102.000150)
Business Hours: 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
Entrance Fee: RM10 (Adult) / RM8 (Child)
What to Expect
After paying the entrance fee, visitors will be given a private tour around the farm by an experienced multilingual guide. There will be one guide assigned to each group. Even if you go alone, you’ll still get the guide to yourself.
During the tour, visitors will be briefed about the ostriches — fun facts about them and their habitat, their breeding process, and the end products that can be produced from the ostrich industry.
The ostriches at Jelita Ostrich Farm were transported by sea from South Africa. The male ostrich has mainly black feathers, while the female’s feathers are grey. At the breeding pen, you will see a demonstration on how to harvest ostrich eggs for breeding.
An ostrich egg can measure up to 15cm long and weigh as much as two dozen chicken eggs. You can try standing on one and see if you can break it (you can’t).
Apart from ostriches, there are also other animals on the farm, such as ponies and goats. You can hand-feed them corn kernels sold at the entrance for RM1 per packet. Tip: One packet is not enough. Buy five if you love the feeling of animal mouths on your hands. I liked the ponies’ lips best.
Then, you will be taken to a racing track where you will see two ostrich jockeys racing each other on ostrich backs.
After that, you can ride one too, if you wish. An ostrich will be blindfolded, so that it doesn’t sprint while you’re mounting it. It can be a bit tricky because the bird is tall. Once you’re on its back, all you have to do is hold on to the wings and lean backward. A handler will be there to guide the ostrich around the enclosure. If you’re feeling confident, you can ask him to make the ostrich go faster.
As with any other tourist attraction, the tour ends with a visit to the souvenir shop, which sells the usual knick-knacks, as well as ostrich products like ostrich milk and ostrich oil. If you rode the bird, you’ll get a certificate to recognize your talent as an ostrich jockey.
Should You Ride An Ostrich?
The ostrich is a strong animal. When threatened, ostriches are perfectly capable of killing potential predators, such as a lion or a human, with a forward kick — although they prefer to run instead. And they can run fast — up to 70kph, a speed they can retain for roughly 10 minutes.
In some African countries, racing on the backs of ostriches is a common sport. The participating birds are fitted with special saddles, reins, and bits. This activity has also become popular among tourists in Africa, and recently in other parts of the world too.
However, the reality is that the skeleton of an ostrich is not designed to support a human’s weight. According to PETA, ostriches can develop serious injuries when forced to carry human beings.
To be fair, the farm did put a restriction for those who wished to ride the ostriches — they had to be less than 75kg. But had I known that riding an ostrich was that harmful to the animal, I’m not sure if I would have done it.
A visit to Jelita Ostrich Farm is a great way to learn about ostriches. My favorite part was feeding the animals, as well as learning about them. It was really cool to be able to touch the ostrich eggs and test how sturdy they were.
With hindsight, I now have mixed feelings about riding the ostrich. On one hand, we know that ostriches aren’t meant to support human weight. On the other hand, the farm was located within the Department of Veterinary site. If ostrich-riding was really that harmful, surely the people at the department would have put a stop to it?
If you visit Jelita Ostrich Farm and do not wish to ride an ostrich or watch the ostrich race, be firm in saying so. It might disappoint the staff members though, as they seemed very eager to entertain you and make sure you get your money’s worth.
Have you visited Jelita Ostrich Show Farm or any other ostrich farm in the world? What did you like about it? Share your experience in the comments below.