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Zookeepers Hand-Rear Flamingo Chicks

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The two and three-week old chicks doing well behind the scenes.

Zookeepers Hand-Rear Flamingo Chicks

Flamingo chicks play in the zoo's cottonwood lawn.

The zoo celebrated two new flamingos this summer. The young birds hatched a week apart, on the 20th and 27th of June, and are being hand-raised behind the scenes by BioPark staff.

Raising flamingo chicks takes a lot of time. Because the BioPark’s flamingo exhibit is open-air, it’s not a safe place for a tiny young bird, so BioPark keepers raise the chicks behind the scenes. A newly hatched chick needs to be fed every three hours. As they get older, the feeding time decreases--once every four hours is enough--but they need to exercise!

To make sure the babies’ legs grow into the long, strong legs that lift adult flamingos so high above the water, BioPark keepers take the babies on walks. Twice a day, Peter Shannon, Curator of Birds, heads to the grassy lawn by the Bandshell Stage for exercise time. (Watch a video.) “They know the sound of our voices,” he says, and so, calling to the chicks, he strides across the grass and they trot along behind him. “There’s nothing cuter than a baby flamingo,” he says.

Flamingo chicks are born whitish-brownish-grey. Although they eat the same food that gives adults their unique pink color, young flamingos acquire their pink color over time. As they molt their juvenile down, new feathers that can bear the pink color slowly grow in. It takes a solid three years before the young birds blend in with the older flamingos.

The flamingo chicks are just a few of the young birds that zookeepers are raising behind the scenes. Keepers are also caring for a lorikeet, two roadrunners and two sun conure chicks


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