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COMO ZOO WELCOMES NEW BABY FLAMINGO

Posted on 12 September 2012 by robwas66

Como Zoo has welcomed a baby flamingo to its flock. The small white chick is on public display huddled near its pink parents. This is the only the fourth flamingo born at Como in the zoo’s 115 year history.

This hatchling is one of three flamingo eggs laid this summer. The eggs were put in an incubator and a false egg was put in its place for the parents to sit on. Once it appeared the egg was in hatch stage, which generally takes 2-3 days, zookeepers put it back into the nest with its parents. The first of the other two eggs laid this season was not viable, but the third looks to be fertile.

Flamingos are most known for their remarkable color—from pale pink to salmon and red—but they are not born with this colored plumage, nor can they maintain it without a proper diet. Flamingo chicks are born white and turn grey after a few weeks. It is after a year or so that they begin to develop their attractive rosy coloring. Alpha and Beta carotene pigments in a flamingo’s diet create the brilliant hues. These pigments are added to the diets of captive flamingos.

In the wild, flamingos gather to breed in large colonies—often thousands of individuals at once. Although flamingos reach sexual maturity at 2-6 years, they usually do not begin breeding before six years of age. Breeding can occur at any time and may happen twice a year. Individuals may not breed every year.

 

The female lays one large egg atop a constructed mound of mud. The mound is usually about .3 meters (one foot) tall. The egg is incubated by both parents for 26-31 days. Among Chilean flamingos, the male is the primary care giver. Adults recognize the chick by sight and vocalizations and will not feed any other chick. Chicks are fed a red secretion of the upper digestive tract from both parents called “crop milk.” Although it isn’t truly milk—only mammals produce milk—it contains similar nutrients. The chick leaves the nest after four to seven days.


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