Image: © ZSL
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have shared the touching story of an abandoned flamingo egg which was rescued by keepers at the conservation zoo and eventually adopted by new parents.
Keepers found the egg in the zoo’s flamingo enclosure and took it to the nursery where it was carefully incubated for the next 32 days. In the safety of the incubator they could ensure it hatched happy and healthy. Once it hatched it was moved to the enclosure and placed in the care of flamingoes, Florence and Freddie.
Whipsnade Zoo birdkeeper Emily Merrick-White said, “It’s important we step in and support the American flamingo flock whenever an egg is abandoned by its parents, especially as when left alone the eggs are at risk of predators. By incubating the eggs in our specialised bird nursery, we can make sure the chicks have the best chance of survival and ensure that Whipsnade Zoo has a healthy and strong flock of flamingos.”
Since the chick hatched on Monday June 19 the adoptive parents have been carefully caring for the chick.
“The new chick is easy for visitors to spot, as it definitely stands out from the flamboyance – the collective term for a flock of flamingos – because of its light grey colour. The youngster won’t develop the iconic pink and orange hue the species are known for, for another year or so.
“In the meantime, the chick is being fed bright red “crop milk,” by both parents – this unusually coloured nutritious ’milk’ is made in the linings of their digestive tracts, and contains fat, protein and blood cells.”
It will still be some time before the team are able to determine if the chick is a male or female.
Despite American flamingoes currently having a stable population in the wild these animals face many of the same threats as other wetland species. These include habitat destruction, rising sea levels from climate change and water pollution.
“ZSL, the international conservation charity behind Whipsnade Zoo, is working to restore wetland environments across Asia, Africa, in Amazonian flooded forests and even central London – where the team is helping to restore the Thames estuary – to help ensure the long-term survival of the many bird and marine species that call these incredible ecosystems home,” Emily said.
The flock also provide an educational opportunity through a daily talk at the zoo.
American flamingoes are considered the brightest of the flamingoes with red, pink and orange feathers. This color comes from pigment in the food which they eat such as algae and shrimp.
Image: © ZSL
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