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04 03/04/2014

Our keepers give an MOT to a flock of 100 pink flamingos

  • Flamingos
  • Birds

Our flock of 100 flamingos have had their annual health check-up.

Flamingo counting 

The Chilean flamingos were weighed and given the once over by our expert bird keepers and vets who also assessed their feet and measured their legs and skulls.

The checks will help the team to identify each of the birds and look at how different pairs bond, as it’s not yet known whether or not they choose different mates over the course of their lives or for how long they breed for.

This kind of information can then be passed on to help conservationists in the wild and help protect the long term future of the species.

 

Flamingo count

The Chilean flamingos were weighed, ringed and fitted with microchips by the zoo’s expert bird keepers and vets. Curator of birds, Andrew Owen, said: “We’re keen to assess the condition of every individual flamingo and check that they’re happy and healthy prior to the breeding season, which will begin in late spring.”

 

Flamingo health check at Chester Zoo

The team took blood and feather samples from last year’s young, which will be sent for DNA tests to help determine their sex. They also measured their legs and skulls. “It’s a very important part of our programme of care for the birds and it’s also really useful for us to know who’s who - the females have usually got much smaller skulls but we’ll know for absolute certain when the DNA results come back,” added Andrew.

 

Flamingo healthchecks at Chester Zoo

Keepers also checked and took photographs of each of the flamingos’ feet. This allows them to compare their condition from one year to the next to ensure they are always nice and healthy.

 

Flamingo count at Chester Zoo

Keepers carefully return each of the birds – which are classed as an endangered species in the wild - back to the group. Contrary to their name, Chilean flamingos are not just found in Chile but also live in Argentina and Bolivia.

 

Flamingos at Chester Zoo

The checks on the flamingos will help the team to identify each of the birds and look at how different pairs bond, as it’s not yet known whether or not they choose different mates over the course of their lives or for how long they breed for.

This kind of information can then be passed on to help conservationists in the wild and help protect the long term future of the species.

Learn more about our Chilean flamingos >

Find our flamingos on our map >

 

Flamingo facts

There are about 200,000-300,000 in the wild where 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

Chilean flamingos are classed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature 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

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