We have more than 100 Chilean Flamingos at Chester Zoo, all part of a spectacular family which has been here since the 1960s.

They're given an annual check by our dedicated keepers, when they are micro-chipped, weighed, measured and ringed so we can keep tabs on each one's health and fitness.

It's quite a time consuming job with so many birds to check over, but an essential part of our care programme.

We're also conducting valuable studies on flamingo behaviour and looking at how different pairs bond.

Despite their name, Chilean Flamingos are not just found in Chile, but in the wild they also live in Argentina and Bolivia.

There are about 200,000 to 300,000 in the wild and, while not an endangered species, continued monitoring of their numbers is vital as they have long been a target of poachers who pinch their eggs.

This along with a loss of habitat as developers and farmers move into areas where they live has put the flamboyant species under increasing threat.

They live mainly on estuaries, lagoons, mud flats and salt lakes. Salmon pink coloured with grey legs and pink knees, they are closely related to Caribbean Flamingos, which we also have in Chester, but the Chilean birds are paler in colour.

They get their colour from crustaceans and algae that they eat. Chicks are born fluffy grey and will not become pink for up to three years.

One of their most unusual features is their beak which they can manoeuvre to float upside down in the water and it has a comb-like filter to help them drain out food.

Chilean flamingos are classed as a near threatened species – meaning they are likely to become endangered and threatened with a high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future 

Read more

Interesting facts

IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Where they live: Chile, Argentina and Bolivia

Habitat:  Coastal mudflats, lagoons, estuaries and salt lakes

Diet: Algae and plankton

Weight: 2.5 to 3.5 kg

Threats: Egg harvesting/collecting, habitat loss

Scientific Name: Phoenicopterus chilensis