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Abandoned as an egg, this flamingo chick gets a second chance

Posted by: Alissa Wolken, Communications

Woodland Park Zoo celebrated its third Chilean flamingo hatching this year on Monday, August 22, 2016. Abandoned as an egg, the chick is being cared for by a dedicated team of zookeepers and animal health staff who are hand-raising the chick behind the scenes.

This flamingo chick is being reared by zookeepers until it can rejoin the flock. Photo: John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo.

Tiny leg lifts! Photo: John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo.

The flamingo chick is currently fed up to five times a day and is learning to follow its zookeepers as they take it on exercise walks. Once the chick is old enough to eat on its own, in about 30-45 days, it will begin to join the rest of the flock in the flamingo exhibit.

In addition to the hand-reared chick, two other chicks are currently being parent-reared in the colony. A total of 14 chicks have hatched since the exhibit opened in 2008. The zoo currently has 38 Chilean flamingos.

Flamingo chicks hatch with a whitish, gray down and can acquire extensive pink feathering that can be mixed with gray-brown contour feathers at about 1 year of age. Juveniles usually have full pink feathering by 2 to 3 years of age. These hardy, social birds of South America stand an impressive 40 to 42 inches tall, and can live as long as 70 years.

One of two flamingo chicks currently living among the flock. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Chilean flamingos have an extensive range throughout much of southern South America in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. They can withstand cold, wet climates. They regularly live in lakes at altitudes up to 15,000 feet, as well as at sea level during the winter months. These lakes are usually inhospitable to all living creatures except for algae, diatoms, aquatic invertebrates, flamingos and other birds.

Woodland Park Zoo supports the Flamingo Research and 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.

Two flamingo chicks are living among the flock and being reared by their parents. The chick getting keeper care will eventually rejoin the flock. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.