PETALING JAYA: Chickaboo the runaway ostrich who took to the Federal Highway has a Husky and turkeys as friends and is quite the celebrity in the Klang Valley, says her owner.
Darren Chow, 44, has been working with animals for over 20 years and had raised Chickaboo since she was a chick.
The six-month-old ostrich is a familiar face at schools and local events in the Klang Valley.
“She was at the KL Picnic Festival at Desa ParkCity just last month. She is always out in public and people recognise her. She’s been to many events,” said Chow when contacted by The Star.
According to Chow, Chickaboo has also made appearances at the KL Kids Carnival, Pets Fiesta and several school events.
He said he conducts animal education programmes that allow children to interact with tame animals.
“We bring tame and friendly animals like turkeys, roosters, ostriches, ducks, lizards and frogs to show kids what these animals look and feel like. We also teach them not to be cruel to animals,” he said.
Chow said Chickaboo is “very affectionate” and would follow him around everywhere.
“She is extremely curious, greedy and hungry all the time.
“She gets along well with my Husky. She will sleep with the Husky and hangs around with a couple of turkeys and dogs,” he added.
However, Chow said he was on the way to return Chickaboo to the farm he bought her from when she made her great escape.
“She was living with me for six months. But she is getting bigger and needs more space to run around,” said Chow, adding that his 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 wouldn’t be exploited for leather or meat.
“We will miss her and will definitely go visit her,” he added.
Chow said Chickaboo escaped from the open window of his Toyota Hilux when he was on the way to the Ostrich Wonderlands farm in Semenyih.
“It was really just an embarrassing incident,” he said.
“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.”
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 Hilux to be taken home.
“She certainly had a long exercise,” 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 she’s physiologically well and that she’s not in shock,” he said.
Chow said Chickaboo would be making her way back to Ostrich Wonderlands tonight.
The owner of Ostrich Wonderlands, Casey Teh, confirmed that Chow had bought Chickaboo from him “months ago”.
Teh said he cares for over 100 ostriches and other birds, and assured that Chickaboo would not be slaughtered for meat.
“My farm is open to the public. Families and students can visit to learn about ostriches and other birds,” Teh added.