At the Detroit Zoo
The Detroit Zoo is home to two female rheas. White Butt was hatched here in 1998; Ethel was hatched at the National Zoo in 2009 and arrived here later that year. The rhea, emu and ostrich are equivalents on different continents, with the rhea being the South American version. The Detroit Zoo is home to all three species. The rheas can be found in the American Grasslands.
The rhea is the largest bird in the Americas. Its plumage is grayish-brown with darker patches on its neck. Adapted for running and not flying, the rhea’s legs are extremely powerful.
Scientific name: Rhea americana
Continent: South America
Habitat: Tall grassland and open woodland
Size: Averages 4 feet tall; can be as tall as 6 feet
Weight: 45-55 pounds
Diet: Small lizards, frogs, plants and seeds
Reproduction: From August to January, males will court from two to 12 females to mate with. The females will then lay up to 50 eggs in one nest where the male will sit and protect them until they hatch.
Lifespan: 15 years in the wild
Conservation Status: Near Threatened