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Ostriches on the run as Metro Manila goes into coronavirus lockdown

On the first morning of Metro Manila’s strict coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday, Filipinos opened their social media accounts to discover the strangest lockdown violators yet: two ostriches on the loose, one of them being chased by a goat.

Dino Rivera, a resident of Mapayapa Village 3 subdivision in Quezon City, said he was buying food when he saw an ostrich running down the street. He shot a video of the large bird running after a car and posted it on Facebook.

Another resident, Mark Lawrence Molina Umipig, recorded the ostrich running towards a subdivision gate. It stopped when a security guard lowered the barrier and called out in Tagalog, “you don’t have an ID, you can’t leave”. Only those with passes and permits are allowed out of their residences during the region’s Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, which will be in place until August 18.

The ostrich turned around and ran a few metres before stopping and walking back to the gate. The guard told it firmly, “I said, you don’t have a gate pass, you can’t leave”. It then turned around again and ran away.

By then, the first video had been shared widely on Facebook and Twitter, with comments like “even ostriches are out looking for help” and “even an ostrich wants to escape from this country”.

People started setting the video of the fleeing bird to music and the inevitable references were made to the movie Jumanji, about an enchanted board game that summons wild animals.
Another video, shot from inside a car, showed a group of men subduing the ostrich. The person shooting the scene then swept the camera around and was startled to see another ostrich running down the street.

A village association officer, who asked not to be identified, said the two ostriches had run around the neighbourhood until they were caught by security guards.

The association was unaware there were ostriches in the subdivision and is trying to ascertain how many there were.

According to the source, the giant birds were housed in a fenced lot and got out accidentally. The owner of the lot is currently out of town.

After the videos came out, a Department of Environment and Natural Resources official arrived but was prevented from entering the village.

The association officer said they could not take any action before the owner returned, “because he might have proper papers”.

Asked about the association’s policy on pets, the source said dogs were allowed but cats were not. Some residents also keep fighting cocks. “I can see them in the lots, but they don’t bring them out.”

And the officer hopes there are no pet snakes. “Because if there are, I’ll be the first to report it to the authorities.”

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.

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