The keepers at Hamerton Zoo Park were ‘tickled pink’ when they found that their flock of Greater Flamingos had begun to nest and incubate eggs, resulting in five fluffy chicks successfully hatching so far this summer.
The flock has lived at Hamerton Zoo Park for several years and whilst eggs had been laid by the flamingos in the past, no nesting had been attempted by the birds until this year.
But there are now two chicks who have been grabbing the attention of visitors to the zoo this summer. They have been named Ringo and Junior and are being hand-reared.
While animals are left to rear their own young whenever possible at Hamerton, Ringo and Junior's eggs were laid in the paddock and not in the nests. Ordinarily living in a flock and learning from other flamingos, chicks who are hand-reared need a little extra help with the basics of growing up, including learning to walk on their long and wobbly legs.
The chicks are currently grey in colour and will develop their pink colours after a few months.
Bird keeper Christopher Swales said: "In the wild flamingos live in large flocks and breeding only occurs in years when all conditions are right. Here at Hamerton this must be one of those years. During 2019, our flock has nested and incubated strongly, never having done so in this way before; and at one point we had no less than 13 females incubating eggs. So far, we have five strong chicks of varying sizes doing well."
Mr Swales has also hatched a critically endangered Ruppell's Griffon Vulture chick earlier this year, as well as two Marabou Stork chicks. Marabou Storks, often considered as one of the ugliest animals on the planet, are thankfully increasing in number in the wild and they are no longer endangered on the IUCN watch list.
Hamerton Zoo Park is home to an ever-increasing collection of rare and endangered animals and birds, featuring almost 100 different species and specialising in Australian species, including dingoes, tiger quolls, wombats, possums, long-nosed potoroos, plus many more interesting and unusual animals.