This systematic survey of museum ratite (Pterocnemia, Rhea, Casuarius, Struthio, Dromias and Apteryx) skeletal collections was performed to reevaluate previous perspectives and assess effect of captivity on macroscopically detectable pathology. Trauma-related pathology (e.g. focal periosteal reaction, malformed vertebrae) was significantly more common in captive birds (chi2 = 13.414, P < 0.0001) with variable timing of the different injuries. Pathology unrelated to trauma was equally represented in captive and wild-caught ratites. The latter included osteophytes of osteoarthritis, osteochondritis dissecans, infectious arthritis, gout (reported for the first time in a ratite) and neoplasia.