Animation Adventures

The Charm and Innovation of Donald’s Ostrich: Exploring a Disney Classic

When it comes to classic Disney characters, Donald Duck is undoubtedly one of the most beloved. Fans of the plucky little waterfowl will definitely want to check out the 1937 short film, Donald’s Ostrich.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this charming story and explore the reasons why it has remained popular over the years.Getting to Know Donald’s Ostrich

Donald’s Ostrich is a 7-minute short film directed by Jack King and featuring Donald Duck as the main character. It was created during the golden age of animation and was released by Walt Disney Productions in 1937.

In the story, Donald acquires a pet ostrich named Hortense and proceeds to try and take care of her, with humorous and chaotic results. Act 1: Meeting Hortense the Ostrich

The film begins with Donald walking down the street and happening upon a group of traveling salesmen.

They have a live ostrich with them, which they’re trying to sell. Donald ends up buying the ostrich, but quickly finds himself overwhelmed by her size and energy.

Hortense the ostrich is depicted as a large, animated bird with a playful personality and appetites to match. Act 2: The Challenges of Pet Ownership

As Donald tries to care for Hortense, he runs into various obstacles.

For example, he tries to feed her but ends up giving her a whistling teapot that makes her think there are snakes around. He tries to walk her on a leash, but she ends up dragging him around and causing chaos in the streets.

At one point, she accidentally gets her beak stuck in a bottle of glue, which causes more mayhem when Donald tries to remove it. Act 3: Chaos Reigns

As the short film progresses, the chaos and humor increase.

At one point, Hortense follows Donald into his house and proceeds to swallow a bunch of objects, including a whole phonograph record. The sound that results from this makes for some hilarious moments.

Eventually, Hortense manages to escape from Donald’s watchful eye and wreaks havoc in the city, with cars and buildings getting damaged in the process. Act 4: A Happy Ending

Despite the chaos and destruction, the story does have a happy ending.

In the final scene, Donald is able to track down Hortense and rescue her from a group of angry police officers. He decides to sell her back to the salesmen he bought her from, but not before he has a tearful goodbye with his beloved pet.

The closing scene shows Donald, alone and forlorn, missing his beloved pet.

Conclusion: The Enduring Appeal of Donald’s Ostrich

Donald’s Ostrich remains a beloved short film among Disney fans for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s just plain funny.

The humor is slapstick and silly, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns that keep the audience engaged. Additionally, it’s a great example of Disney animation at its finest.

The colors are bright and vivid, the backgrounds are lush and detailed, and the characters are lively and endearing. But perhaps the biggest reason for the film’s enduring popularity is its heart.

Despite all of the chaos and absurdity, there’s a real sense of warmth and affection between Donald and Hortense. We see this in the way that Donald tries his best to take care of her, and in the way that he mourns her loss at the end.

Ultimately, Donald’s Ostrich is a feel-good story about the bond between humans and their pets, and it’s hard not to be charmed by it. Donald’s Ostrich is a classic Disney short that has remained popular with audiences for more than eight decades.

In addition to its charming characters and well-executed animation, the film’s plot is a major factor in its continued popularity. In this article expansion, we’ll take a closer look at the film’s plot and explore the elements that make it a timeless classic.

Act 1: Donald Eagerly Buys an Ostrich

The film’s plot begins with Donald Duck walking along a street when he spots a group of men trying to sell an ostrich. Donald, being the impulsive and unpredictable character that he is, immediately decides to buy the bird, even though he has no idea how to take care of it.

This moment sets the stage for the chaos and humor that ensues, as Donald struggles to manage his newly acquired pet. Act 2: Petticoat Junction

One of the most memorable scenes in the film takes place when Donald tries to walk Hortense, his ostrich, on a leash.

As he does so, Hortense runs towards a passing train, causing Donald to be pulled along with her. The train then picks up speed, sending both Donald and Hortense flying through the air and landing in the middle of a group of women who are picnicking nearby.

This scene is particularly memorable because it epitomizes the film’s blend of slapstick humor and clever visual humor. From the frantic chase scene with the train to the way that the women’s clothing gets caught up in Hortense’s legs, this scene is an early example of the sort of comedic set-pieces that would become commonplace in later Disney films.

Act 3: The “Swallowed a Phonograph Record” Scene

One of the zaniest scenes in the film involves Hortense swallowing a phonograph record. As Donald plays the record on his turntable, Hortense begins to move in time with the music, and the record player’s needle begins to “play” her stomach like a musical instrument.

This moment highlights the magic of Disney animation, as we see a CG-created object physically altering the shape of an animated character. This scene is also notable for its use of sound.

Disney’s animation team was known for their groundbreaking use of sound effects in their films, and this scene is no exception. The sound of the needle on the record scratching against Hortense’s stomach is both hilarious and surreal, and it’s a moment that has remained memorable for many viewers.

Act 4: The


The film’s climax comes when Hortense gets loose and goes on a rampage through a small town, causing chaos and destruction everywhere she goes. In a final act of desperation, Donald sets up a trap to capture her, but he ends up falling into it himself.

As he is led away by the police, we see a shot of Hortense standing sadly behind the bars of a pen. This concluding moment is particularly effective because it reveals Donald’s deeper feelings for Hortense.

Despite all of the challenges and difficulties that he has had in caring for her, it’s clear that he has grown attached to her and will miss her. It’s a character moment that adds a level of emotional depth to an otherwise silly and lighthearted film.


In many ways, the plot of Donald’s Ostrich is a straightforward one: it’s a story about a man and his pet, and the hijinks that ensue when the pet happens to be a giant bird. But it’s the film’s execution that elevates it to the level of a classic.

From its memorable characters to its clever visual gags, Donald’s Ostrich is a film that has stood the test of time. And even after more than 80 years, it remains a beloved and entertaining piece of animation that continues to delight audiences of all ages.

Donald’s Ostrich is a classic Disney short film that has delighted audiences for generations with its humor, animation, and lovable characters. However, beyond the story itself, the production behind the film is also fascinating.

From the creation of the characters to the development of the animation technology used in the film, there is much to explore when it comes to the production of Donald’s Ostrich.

Character Development

One of the first steps in the production process was developing the characters. Hortense the ostrich is a particularly notable character.

She was created by Bill Thompson and Jack Cutting, who were both Disney animators at the time. According to Cutting, the idea for the character came to him when he saw an ostrich at a zoo and was struck by how its feathers and body movements might lend themselves to animation.

Thompson then developed the character’s personality, giving her a playful and mischievous nature that would provide ample opportunity for comedic situations.

Animation Technology

The animation in Donald’s Ostrich was created using a variety of techniques, some of which were innovative for their time. One key technique was the use of the multiplane camera, which was developed by Walt Disney in the early 1930s.

This device allowed animators to create a sense of depth and movement in their artwork by layering multiple sheets of celluloid on top of one another and then moving them in sequence. The result was a more lifelike and dynamic form of animation that had never been seen before.

In addition to the multiplane camera, the film also utilized another innovative technology called the “Silly Symphony Color System.” This was a revolutionary new process for coloring animation cells, and it allowed for a greater range of colors and tones than had been previously possible. This ensured that the colors in Donald’s Ostrich were brighter and more vibrant than anything seen before on screen.

Music and Sound

Another essential aspect of the production of Donald’s Ostrich was the film’s music and sound design. The film’s score was composed by Leigh Harline, who was a prominent composer at Walt Disney Productions during the 1930s and 1940s.

The music was an integral part of the film’s humor and helped to accentuate the comedic moments on screen. The film’s sound effects, meanwhile, were also some of the most advanced of their time.

Disney’s team of sound designers used a variety of innovative techniques to create effects that had never been heard before, from the sound of Hortense’s feathers fluttering to the gurgling noises made by her digestive system after she swallows a phonograph record. It was this attention to detail that helped to make the film’s visuals and sound so memorable.


In many ways, the production of Donald’s Ostrich was a groundbreaking endeavor. From the innovative animation techniques used to the creative character design, it was a film that pushed the boundaries of what was possible in animated filmmaking.

And even today, viewers can still appreciate the work that went into creating this classic piece of animation. Whether it’s the bright colors, the goofy characters, or the zany sound effects, Donald’s Ostrich is a film that continues to delight and entertain audiences of all ages, nearly 85 years after its initial release.

Donald’s Ostrich is a Disney classic that has been entertaining audiences for over 80 years. However, beyond the production process, the release of the film was also an important piece of the puzzle.

In this article expansion, we’ll take a closer look at the film’s release and the impact it had on Disney animation.

Initial Release

Donald’s Ostrich was first released on July 17, 1937, as part of the Disney short cartoon series. It was the 57th entry in the series, and it was one of the first films to feature Donald Duck as the main character.

Initially, the film received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising the animation and humor while others found it too silly. However, audiences loved the film, and it became a hit upon its release.

Box Office Success

Donald’s Ostrich was not only a hit with audiences but was also a financial success for Disney. At a cost of $16,000 to produce, the film grossed over $98,000 at the box office.

This helped to establish Donald Duck as a popular character, paving the way for his inclusion in future Disney productions.

Impact on Disney Animation

Donald’s Ostrich was a significant film in the history of Disney animation for a few reasons. First, it helped to establish Donald Duck as a major character in the Disney pantheon.

Before Donald’s Ostrich, Donald had appeared in a few other Disney short films but had not yet been given a starring role. The success of the film helped to solidify Donald’s place in the Disney canon and provided a template for future Donald Duck cartoons.

Additionally, Donald’s Ostrich was significant because it demonstrated the effectiveness of Disney’s new animation techniques. The use of the multiplane camera and the Silly Symphony Color System helped to create a level of visual appeal and depth that had not been seen before in animation.

This sparked a wave of experimentation and innovation in Disney animation that would continue for years to come.

Legacy and Re-releases

Even today, Donald’s Ostrich remains a beloved Disney classic. It has been re-released numerous times, both in theaters and on home video.

In 2007, it was included as part of the Disney Treasures DVD collection, which was aimed at collectors and featured restored versions of classic Disney shorts. Beyond its commercial success, Donald’s Ostrich also had a lasting impact on popular culture.

The film introduced audiences to some of Disney’s most iconic characters, including Donald Duck and the lovable Hortense the ostrich. It demonstrated the power of animation as a storytelling medium, and it helped to set the stage for the popularity of animated features like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was released the following year.


Donald’s Ostrich is a timeless classic that has captivated audiences for over 80 years. It’s one of Disney’s most beloved short films and helped to establish Donald Duck as a major character in the Disney canon.

The film’s innovative animation techniques and zany humor helped to pave the way for future Disney productions, and it remains a beloved part of Disney’s history to this day. When it comes to classic Disney films like Donald’s Ostrich, one element that often gets overlooked is the soundtrack.

However, the music in Donald’s Ostrich is an essential part of the film’s charm and success. In this article expansion, we’ll take a closer look at the soundtrack of Donald’s Ostrich and explore why it remains a beloved part of the film even today.

Leigh Harline’s Score

One of the most important elements of the film’s soundtrack is its score, which was composed by Leigh Harline. Harline was a prolific composer who worked on many classic Disney films, including Pinocchio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

In Donald’s Ostrich, Harline’s score adds a layer of whimsy and playfulness to the film. One particularly notable aspect of Harline’s score is its use of leitmotif.

A leitmotif is a musical theme that is associated with a particular character or idea. In Donald’s Ostrich, Harline uses leitmotif to help establish and reinforce the personalities of the film’s characters.

For example, the music that plays when Donald is on screen is jaunty and upbeat, while the music that plays when Hortense is on screen is playfully mischievous.

Sound Design

Another essential part of the film’s soundtrack is its sound design. In addition to Harline’s score, the film also features an array of sound effects that help to bring its zany humor and cartoonish action to life.

The sound effects in Donald’s Ostrich are notable for their precision and creativity. For example, when Hortense swallows a phonograph record, the sound of it spinning around in her stomach is both hilarious and strangely believable.

It’s worth noting that the sound design of the film was an achievement in its own right. At the time, sound design in films was still a relatively new discipline, and the Disney animators were at the forefront of developing new techniques and technologies.

The level of detail and nuance in the sound effects in Donald’s Ostrich was an early example of the innovation and creativity that would come to define Disney’s sound design in later years.

Musical Accompaniment

In addition to the film’s score and sound design, Donald’s Ostrich also features a number of musical numbers. One particularly memorable moment is when Donald plays a phonograph record for Hortense.

As the music plays, Hortense begins to dance and move in time with the music, leading to a series of playful and humorous moments. The music in these scenes adds to the film’s sense of whimsy and highlights the connection between Donald and Hortense.


Today, the music and sound design of Donald’s Ostrich remain beloved by fans of the film. The film’s score and sound effects have influenced generations of animators and sound designers, and the film’s musical numbers have become iconic examples of how music can be used in animation.

For fans of classic Disney films, the soundtrack of Donald’s Ostrich is an essential part of its enduring appeal and charm.


When it comes to classic Disney films, the soundtrack can be an overlooked aspect that is essential in creating a memorable experience. Donald’s Ostrich is no exception.

From Leigh Harline’s playful score to the innovative sound design, the soundtrack of Donald’s Ostrich is an unforgettable part of the film’s charm and success. It’s a testament to the creativity and innovation of the animators and sound designers who worked on the film, and it remains a beloved part of Disney’s rich history of animation.

In conclusion, Donald’s Ostrich is a classic Disney short film that continues to entertain and delight audiences even after more than 80 years. The film’s enduring popularity can be attributed to its charming characters, innovative animation, and memorable soundtrack.

From its initial release to its impact on Disney animation, Donald’s Ostrich is a timeless classic that has left an indelible mark on popular culture.


Q: Who created Donald’s Ostrich?

A: Donald’s Ostrich was directed by Jack King, and the characters were created by Bill Thompson and Jack Cutting. Q: When was Donald’s Ostrich first released?

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