Keepers from the bird department at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park readied their processing kits as they prepared to perform health exams on the two newest chicks in the greater flamingo flock. The chicks—both hatched July 12—were weighed, had a blood sample taken to determine their sex and received a tiny microchip for identification purposes. Keepers were also tasked with checking on the progress of laid eggs in various stages of the hatching process—and they discovered one egg had pipped, meaning the chick made its first hole in the shell to start breaking out of the egg. Two other eggs are full-term and have not yet pipped, but they could hatch in the next few days. So far, 17 chicks have hatched this breeding season (April through September) and bring the Safari Park’s breeding program total to 192 hatches.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is home to the largest colony of greater flamingos in North America, and one of the Park’s missions is species sustainability. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is unique among zoos in that it has the ability to house very large groups of animals in expansive enclosures that closely resemble their wild habitats. This allows all of the social interactions and behaviors to occur that encourage breeding.
Greater flamingos are not endangered and are the most widespread of the world’s flamingo species. However, these flamingos are dependent on wetlands, and if their habitats are compromised, it could change their non-endangered status.
“Greater flamingos serve as ambassador species for wetlands conservation,” said Jenny Tibbott, senior bird keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Flamingos are one of the more well-known bird species; they are loud, tall, bright and beautiful.”
Wetlands ecosystems are some of the fastest-disappearing environments on the planet. In learning about flamingos, people learn the role wetlands play in an ecosystem, why they are disappearing, and why they should be conserved. Protecting areas where flamingos live also protects many plants, fish and amphibian species.
Guests can see the Safari Park’s greater flamingo colony—which, as of July 15, totals 155 adult birds and 17 chicks—from the Africa Tram Safari.