Ostriches and Hoggs

Putting together the Hogg Foundation archive, we have found pictures of Will Hogg on horseback, cattle at the family farm in Mexico, and Ima Hogg’s chihuahua – but there are two family animals missing from photographs: the pet ostriches. On our trip to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Archives to learn more about Mike Hogg, we stumbled upon a news story about the Hogg family’s ostriches. Right in the heart of Austin, the Hoggs were entertaining their guests with ostrich rides and races on their pets, Jack and Jill.

Although these unusual pets may have seemed fun and whimsical, their fate was anything but. At the time, ostrich racing was becoming taboo because of the physical duress of the birds. Both Jack and Jill met untimely deaths, Jack dying while resisting the Hogg’s move from Austin to Varner Plantation, and Jill dying at the hands of an intruder in the family’s orchard. Still, the memory of ostrich drag racing in a field where Austin’s Drag (Guadalupe Street near the UT Austin campus) is today shows us just how much the city has changed since the Hoggs’ day.