11 July 2024

Four newly hatched flamingo chicks are currently being hand-reared by our zookeepers

The American flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) were imported as eggs from Chester Zoo, then incubated and hatched at our specialist bird nursery, as part of their involvement in the European conservation breeding programme. 

Head bird keeper, Tim Savage, said: “The chicks’ arrival ensures that Whipsnade Zoo has a healthy and genetically diverse flock of flamingos, so that they can continue to play an important role in the species’ conservation and breeding by introducing different bloodlines to the flock.” 

“The chicks are gaining weight every day and becoming more active.” 

Devoted keepers have their hands full, caring for the tiny hatchlings around the clock by feeding, monitoring, and weighing them to ensure they are in the best of health. 

The chicks are fed four times a day with a concoction designed to mimic the ‘crop milk’ produced by their flamingo parents. The delectable milkshake consists of a whole boiled egg blended with extra yolks, boiled water, corn oil, vitamins, and minerals, providing the chicks with a protein- and nutrient-rich diet as they grow. 

From about ten days old, the chicks will be slowly introduced to solid foods, in the form of pellets, as they wean off of their milkshake. Alongside vitamins and fish proteins, the pellets contain the carotenoids which give the birds their distinctive pink plumage.  

The fluffy fledglings are expected to join the rest of their flamboyance family, including four chicks which have already hatched in the flamingo’s habitat, when they are two months old. 

“Once the chicks are strong enough to feed on their own and look after themselves, they will be introduced in stages to their peers, and then eventually to the whole flock in their wetland home,” explained Tim.

Zookeeper holding flamingo chick

While the wild population of American flamingos is currently stable, habitat destruction, water pollution, and rising sea levels caused by climate change threaten the wetland environments they inhabit. 

ZSL (Zoological Society of London), the international charity behind our conservation Zoo, is working to restore wetland environments across Asia, Africa, in Amazonian flooded forests, and even central London – through its work to restore the Thames estuary – to protect the variety of bird and marine species that thrive there.  

Visit the us this summer to see the newest addition to the flamingo family, as well as 10,000 other animals, and help support the conservation efforts of international charity ZSL across the globe.

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