One of the two ostriches that went viral after running loose in Quezon City was cooked by its caretakers after it died of stress, the owner’s legal counsel confirmed on Monday (Aug. 10).
Atty. Charlie Pascual said Jonathan Cruz, the owner of the ostriches, told the two caretakers to bury the remains of the dead ostrich last week.
But upon checking the next day, Cruz found the two caretakers had cooked the ostrich into an adobo dish, saying that they felt it was a waste to just bury it.
“Parang wala lang doon sa dalawang boy (It was like nothing to the two boys),” Pascual told the Manila Bulletin. “Wala silang alam sa impact n’on sa public (They know nothing about its impact on the public).”
Pascual offered his apologies to the public, saying a lot of people were affected by the incident, including the ostriches’ third caretaker, who quit his job after the birds escaped while under his care.
“This is a decent family, tahimik na pamilya, maganda ang intensiyon nila (a quiet family, their intentions were good),” he said. “I would just like to relay my apologies to the public for all the distress this has caused.”
Cruz reportedly bought the ostriches from the Philippine Ostrich and Crocodile Farm, Inc. in Misamis Oriental. He planned to open a farm in Nueva Ecija, where the ostriches were to be transferred.
However, quarantine restrictions prevented him from transporting the birds outside Metro Manila. Cruz also claimed he was not given a certificate of wildlife registration that legitimizes one’s ownership of wildlife.
The lawyer assured the public that the ostriches received proper care under Cruz, amid concerns raised by Filipinos online after seeing that the ostriches’ feathers were falling out.
Pascual explained that this could have been because it was molting season for the birds.
The other ostrich was turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which launched an investigation into the legality of keeping ostriches.
In explaining that they did not violate any laws, Pascual said an ostrich is considered livestock and not wildlife.
However, DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said an ostrich is not a domesticated animal and is still covered by Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.
Antiporda also said slaughtering and eating the ostrich is allowed under existing regulations and laws.
“If they want to eat it or katayin, pwede naman dahil pinapayagan naman ito ng ating regulasyon at batas (if they want to eat or slaughter it, they can do so because our regulations and laws allow it),” he said.
“So, since pinapayagan na katayin at kainin, hinihintay namin ang sagot ng legal department kung may cruelty or anything. Kailangan namin marinig ang aming legal department on this (So since it is allowed to be slaughtered and eaten, we are waiting for the legal department’s answer if there was cruelty or anything. We need to hear our legal department on this),” he added.