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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Good things come in three… flamingos!

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, communications 
What is sweeter than a brand new downy-white flamingo chick? How about three!
A keeper gently holds one of the new chicks. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.
The tiny chicks hatched one after another on August 31, September 5 and the last one just a few days ago, September 16.
Peeking into the incubator where the chicks stay cozy. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.
The chicks are being hand raised and hand-fed by a team of dedicated staff, ensuring a higher chance of survival. Several times daily, the chicks are fed a mixture of whole egg powder, a little corn oil, a calcium supplement, vitamin E and water, known as a chick “slurry!”

When the little chicks are old enough to eat on their own, in about 30 days, they will join the adult colony in the flamingo exhibit. The flamingo keepers also must exercise the chicks. 

The flamingo chicks practice swimming in the baby pool chick tub. Video by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.

Leading an exercise session for three flamingo chicks might be the best job in the world. The keepers lead the chicks to an outdoor area where they are encouraged to walk and stretch to strengthen their tiny legs. The chicks also get swimming lessons in a small tub to prepare them for swimming safely in the pool in the flamingo exhibit. Chilean flamingos have a range that extends from an elevation of 15,420 feet in the altiplano (high mountain plateau), to lowland saline estuaries where some overwinter along the southwest Chilean coast.
Stretching those feet! These hardy, social birds of South America stand an impressive 40 to 42 inches tall when full grown. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.
The downy-white feathers they sport will slowly become gray over the next month and won’t turn pink until about a year. Within two years, the juveniles will have their fabulous, full pink feathering. A group of flamingos is sometimes called a “flamboyance”.
Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.
Right now the flamingo chicks have small, straight bills, but in a few months their beaks will begin to curve. They will use this to their advantage as they filter food by holding their bill upside down while feeding from and skimming the water.

The chicks will soon join the rest of the flock in the flamingo exhibit. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.
These three chicks bring the total number of flamingo hatchings to 14 since the exhibit opened in 2008. Woodland Park Zoo supports the Flamingo Research & Conservation in Southern South America project through its Wildlife Survival Fund. The project focuses on research, management, conservation, capacity development, and outreach activities at key sites throughout the flamingo distribution range. Continued monitoring is necessary in order to track conservation status of lowland wetlands, and to determine factors driving flamingo use of these wetlands.
Chilean flamingos, Phoenicopterus chilensis on exhibit in the Temperate Forest. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ.


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