A giant African bird is now thriving in North America as ostrich farming takes root in Texas and Oklahoma.
Texas's and Oklahoma's cattle and oil industries have had better times, but at least one new enterprise in those states is booming: ostrich farming. There are now some 1,000 ostrich farms in the two states, according to Tom Mantzel, director of the American Ostrich Association. The birds are raised primarily for their skin and feathers, but the real future of the industry, says Mantzel, is in the birds' meat, which tastes like veal and is low in cholesterol. The sudden proliferation of American ostrich farms is due in large part to the 1986 Anti-Apartheid Act, which banned the import of South African ostriches. Arid western rangeland is ideal for the birds, which require less land than cattle and produce more offspring.