One of the two ostriches that went viral after running loose in Quezon City and had died of stress, was reportedly cooked by its caretakers, the owner’s legal counsel confirmed on Monday (Aug. 10).

Atty Charlie Pascual said Jonathan Cruz, owner of the ostriches, told their two caretakers to bury the remains of the dead ostrich last week. But when Cruz checked in on them the next day, the caretakers told him that they cooked the ostrich into an Adobo dish, telling him that it was a waste to just bury it.

Pascual offered his apologies to the public, saying there were a lot of people affected by the incident. The ostriches’ third caretaker quit his job after the birds escaped while under his care.

“This is a decent family, tahimik na pamilya, maganda ang intensiyon nila,” Pascual told The Manila Bulletin in an interview. “I would just like to relay my apologies to the public for all the distress this has caused.”

Cruz bought the ostriches from the Philippine Ostrich and Crocodile Farm, Inc. in Misamis Oriental and planned to transfer them to Nueva Ecija, where he wanted to open a farm. However, quarantine restrictions prohibited him from transporting the birds outside Metro Manila.

Pascual explained the ostriches received proper care under Cruz and that he has a certificate of wildlife registration that legitimizes one’s ownership of wildlife.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said ostriches are not a domesticated animal and still covered under the Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001. But slaughtering and eating the ostrich is also 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,” he said. “So, since pinapayagan na katayin at kainin, hinihintay namin ang sagot ng legal department kung may cruelty or anything. Kailangan namin marining ang aming legal department on this.”

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