Roadrunner caught: Ostrich that sprinted down Malaysia's Federal Highway returned to owner

Motorists weren't sure whether to overtake the ostrich so stayed behind it, said a witness.
Motorists weren't sure whether to overtake the ostrich so stayed behind it, said a witness.PHOTO: JEFF SANDHU/INSTAGRAM

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - An escaped ostrich that caused a commotion when it was spotted bolting down the Federal Highway has been caught.

The ostrich, named Chickaboo, was being transported back to a farm when it leapt out of the window and started running, said the owner of the bird.

The video of the flightless bird speeding down the fast lane at about 3.20pm was uploaded by Jeff Sandhu on social media website Instagram.


"When I came by it, the ostrich was running from the Universiti Malaya bus stop heading towards the Federal Highway. It blocked traffic at the bus stop as cars stopped to see what was happening," he said on Thursday (June 16).

"After the bus stop, it started running on the road. And the next thing you know, it ran all the way to the RTM building," he said.

It appeared that the ostrich also had no regard for rules, and ran "afowl" of basic road etiquette.

"It blocked up five lanes on the Federal Highway," said Mr Sandhu, who explained that it took up so much space because the indecisive ostrich kept switching lanes.

"Everyone wasn't sure whether to overtake it or not so we stayed behind it," he added.

However, the ostrich adhered to at least one road rule.

"It was running within the speed limit, so that's OK," said Mr Sandhu, who estimated the bird's general speed at about 35kmh before it grew tired and slowed down.

Mr Sandhu stopped tailing the feathered fugitive at the RTM building because he had a meeting to attend.

"I had to stop following it by then because I had a meeting. I don't think anyone would believe me if I told them I was late because I was chasing after an ostrich," he said.

He also expressed some worry for his new friend, hoping that the bird finds its way home unharmed.

"I hope the ostrich doesn't get hurt and find its way back home! Raya is coming and I'm sure everyone wants it to be home safe," he said, echoing the concerned sentiments of netizens who commented on his video.

Mr Darren Chow, 44, raised Chickaboo from a chick. The six-month-old ostrich is a familiar face at schools and local events in the Klang Valley.  

Mr Chow said he conducts animal education programmes that allow children to interact with tame animals. 

"We bring tame and friendly animals like turkeys, roosters, ostrich, ducks, lizards and frogs to show kids what animals look and feel like. We also teach them not to be cruel to animals," he said.

Mr Chow said that Chickaboo is "very affectionate" and would follow him around everywhere.  

"She is extremely curious, very greedy, and is hungry all the time," he said.

"She gets along well with my Husky. She will sleep with my Husky and hangs around with a couple of turkeys and dogs.  "But she has built a really close relationship with my Husky," he added.  

Mr Chow said he was on his way to return Chickaboo to the farm he bought her from when she made her great escape.   

He said that she was getting bigger and needed more space to run around, adding that neighbours were not supportive of him keeping an ostrich as a pet.  

"We agreed to donate her back to the farm when she got too big, with the condition that she won't be exploited for leather or meat.  

"We will miss her and we will definitely visit her," he added.  

Mr Chow said that Chickaboo escaped from the open window of his Toyota Hilux during the journey to the farm, Ostrich Wonderlands in Semenyih.  

"It was an embarrassing incident. She normally sits quietly in the Hilux, she has never attempted to jump out before. But this time, she jumped out of the window and ran," he said.  

Thankfully, good Samaritans helped to guide Chickaboo to the highway divider to prevent her from running into oncoming traffic.  

They managed to help Chickaboo into the car and transported her back home.   

"She certainly had a long exercise," Mr Chow said with a laugh, adding that he was thankful for everyone's help in securing Chickaboo.  

"She is completely fine now. She is drinking and her bowel movement is good, so that means that she's physiologically well and that she's not in shock," he said.  

According to Mr Chow, Chickaboo would be making her way back to Ostrich Wonderlands tonight.   

The owner of Ostrich Wonderlands Casey Teh, confirmed that Mr Chow had bought Chickaboo from him "months ago".  

"The ostrich started to grow big, so Chow was not comfortable caring for it. That was why he wanted to donate the ostrich back to me so that my workers can take care of it," said Mr Teh.

Mr Teh said that he cares for over a hundred ostriches and other birds, and assured The Star that Chickaboo would not be slaughtered for meat.