Whatever happened to the space ostriches? In “There Were Giants in the Earth” Will is seen running after an uncooperative ostrich-like creature in one scene taken from the unaired pilot, “No Place to Hide.” The voiceover narration of Professor Robinson’s log in the pilot explains that they were attempting to domesticate a number of species native to Priplanus as they established themselves there for the long haul.
The pilot also included a spiny tortoise-like creature which Penny and Debbie ride off on; this scene is also reused in “There Were Giants in the Earth.” Presumably, given the tortoise’s pace, they must have been on it for hours for them to get far enough from the camp to get lost.In the establishing shot from the pilot immediately before Will is seen running after the ostrich (incidentally, it has plumage on its ankles and seems to have a feather boa around its neck), we see a corral in the background, presumably with other kinds of livestock in it. John’s log makes it clear that they have several alien species on hand.
Of course the bloop is another specimen of alien life that is seen. She appears quite regularly over the first season, but with less frequency thereafter. Her last appearances in season three seem to utilise footage from previous episodes.
The giant cyclopses that feature prominently in a couple of the early episodes disappear too, and are never seen again. After that, whatever native life forms that appear are only seen in one-off encounters and either shot or driven away.
What happened to all the varied (and potentially useful) wildlife on Priplanus? Did it turn out that you could not eat space ostrich? It seems rather feckless of the Robinsons to go to all the trouble of trying to domesticate wild animals only to find out that they are inedible. Perhaps it had something to do with the planet’s eccentric orbit. Maybe the Robinsons released their livestock back into the wild before migrating south themselves, hoping it would take care of itself. Maybe there was a mass die out—a number of species do this on earth; after several years (not necessarily immediately) their population grows again. This might be an evolutionary advantage on a planet with such climatic extremes as Priplanus.
Of course, the reality is somewhat different… animals are hard to wrangle on a television set. Bill Mumy did not like working with the ostriches… they can be very bad tempered. The chimp that portrayed Debbie similarly had a bit of a temper, and he was eventually detoothed, apparently after having bitten Angela Cartwright’s brother on a visit to the set (she was horrified when she found out). And, of course, animals cost money to rent. Maybe that explains the stuffed horse Brynhilda rides in “Space Vikings” and the plush toys used by the cowboys in “West of Mars.”