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Fort Worth Zoo Hatches Seventeen New Flamingo Chicks

Lesser Flamingos

Early 2023 has been a weird time for zoos, and for zoos within the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex especially. The shocking thefts of two emperor tamarin monkeys, as well as the tampering with several enclosures, the escape of a clouded leopard, and the death of an endangered vulture have shocked the nation and drawn its attention to the Dallas Zoo. Now, in Dallas’s neighboring city of Fort Worth, some forty miles west of the Dallas Zoo, the Fort Worth Zoo has announced a much-needed bit of good news.

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Over the course of the last month or so, the Fort Worth Zoo reports that seventeen lesser flamingo chicks have successfully hatched, with more on the way, as part of their state-of-the-art breeding program. Lesser flamingos are the smallest species of flamingo and are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. Zoos around the world struggle with growing their lesser flamingo populations, as the birds are very reluctant to breed under captive conditions. This is what makes the Fort Worth Zoo’s lesser flamingo breeding facility so unique and special. Since it was first established in 2002, the indoor facility has become the most successful lesser flamingo breeding facility in the entire world.

The Fort Worth Zoo attributes the success of its lesser flamingo breeding program to the addition of heat lamps, a pool, and mirrors to the indoor breeding facility. Flamingos are known to be very sociable birds. They form distinct bonds with members of their flocks and are almost never housed alone or in small groups. In fact, zoos often employ mirrors as a tactic to encourage flamingo comfort, and by extension breeding behavior, because mirrors give the illusion that a flock is more numerous than it actually is. The sense that they are part of a large flock is something that flamingos are believed to find comforting. It makes sense, then, that the best lesser flamingo breeding facility in the world would maximize its chances of producing chicks by providing plenty of mirrors as well as other creature comforts for the birds in question.

This year’s growing batch of new flamingo chicks bring the numbers up to 382 lesser flamingo chicks successfully hatched by the Fort Worth Zoo since 2002. The zoo reports that the newly hatched chicks will remain under constant care until they are old enough to join the flamingo exhibit. For the time being, the newly hatched flamingos are receiving regular feedings and care both from zoo staff and from their parents. Adult flamingos feed their young a substance referred to as “crop milk” which serves a similar nutritional purpose to the milk produced by mammals, but which is produced in the digestive tract.

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