By Jess Grieveson-Smith
An ostrich appears to have been adopted by a family of elephants – and now they even walk the same way.
The unique friendship between an ostrich and a parade of elephants has been captured in Indalu Game Reserve, Mossel Bay, South Africa.
Having grown up alongside elephants, the nine-year-old ostrich called Fransina has been caught on camera slowly walking with her new family and even appearing to move her neck like a trunk.
Gerhard Van Rooyen, owner of the reserve, says Fransina joined the herd of elephants in 2014 after initially latching onto a herd of sheep.
He said: “We initially bought Fransina along with a male to take care of the sheep.
“The male died about five years so we sold all the sheep and let Fransina loose to walk around the reserve.
“Fransina roamed free for only a short while, before she decided to cautiously build her relationship with the gentle giants.
“Visitors are so impressed with finding an ostrich walking with the elephants that they usually snap some pictures with her while they’re there.
“Some guests even come to the reserve not only to meet the elephants, but also to ask after the friendly Fransina.”
Ostriches are known for being sociable and usually travel in pairs or even in herds of around four or five.
But Franscina has knitted a close friendship with the elephants which is seen as an unbreakable, family-like bond.
Indalu Game Reserve prides itself on educating their guests using guided, informative walks with the elephants but even during these, Fransina is determined she won’t be left out.
Falling into line with the rest of the parade, Fransina can often be spotted weaving between the herd, slowing her pace to match their elongated steps and making sure to stay behind the leading member.
Fransina even lowers her head as she walks – carefully sticking close to her companions and eating alongside them too.
Guests are invited to feed the elephants from ‘healthy snack buckets’ containing different fruits – and Fransina has even been caught getting in on the action.
Gerhard added: “Fransina is a very love-able bird.
“She likes to settle down onto her haunches as soon as I come near her, ready to receive some cuddles.
“Her favourite activity is definitely joining the elephant interaction sessions, which is one of the most popular Indalu activities for people visiting the reserve.”