Saturday, 3 October 2009

Lone Flamingo Finds New Family

On Wednesday our lone Chilean flamingo was collected by Paignton Zoo to join a flock of 47 birds. Flamingos are social and live together in large colonies of a few dozen to tens of thousands. Originally one of a small group, this one male was left when, in recent years, the other birds passed away. He is around 30 years old which may sound like alot but, in captivity flamingos can live into their 40s, so he has plenty more years to look forward to in his new home.

Chilean flamingos have mainly white plumage with a faint pink tinge. To conserve body heat, they often stand on one leg and bring the other close to their body. They also tuck their head under a wing for this reason. Like other flamingos, they spend up to 30% of their time preening and feed on invertebrates which live in mud. They also eat some blue-green algae, insect larvae, small worms, and other organisms found in alkaline water. Most zoos feed a specially formulated flamingo pellet soaked in water. In the wild, Chilean flamingos are classified as vulnerable. They are at risk from illegal egg-collecting and habitat loss.

Our flamingo, having always lived in the walk-in enclosure is very used to people, especially keepers, being within a few feet of him. This meant that it was very easy to simply pick him up and carry him to a travel crate in Paignton Zoo's van. He put up no resistance; the event was stress free for animal and keepers!

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