‘Ugly duckling’ will turn into a Drusillas flamingo

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KEEPERS at Drusillas Zoo have done a lot of work to encourage breeding amongst the resident flamingos.

Playing the birds classic love songs by Barry White and Marvin Gaye has been one method to ‘set the mood’. Pre-recorded mating sounds of Chilean flamingos from Zoo Atlanta in Georgia, USA, were played at the same time.

Finally, their efforts have been rewarded with the welcome arrival of a healthy chick. The rare Chilean flamingo hatched on July 26 and is finding its oversized feet in the flock. It is the first successful hatching at the zoo in three years and keepers at the award-winning zoo are tickled pink.

A further three eggs are due to hatch any time.

Sue Woodgate, zoo manager, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the progress of the flamingo chick. I was lucky enough to be at the enclosure when it hatched; the keepers and I were so excited to see the little grey flamingo emerge from its shell under the watchful eye of its parents.”

The keepers also placed mirrors in the enclosure, to create the illusion of a fuller flock and egg on the romance; flamingos are very sensitive to their surroundings and feel safer in a larger group. They even started building the nests and placed a fake egg on top, providing the birds with plenty of materials to continue.

Proud parents Maurice and Gabriella have been together at the park since 2002 and the new addition is their third chick there.

The baby flamingo currently bears a greater resemblance to an ugly duckling, hatching with grey downy feathers. Flamingos turn pink due to the pigmentation in the food they eat, such as shrimps and other crustaceans. It will be another two years before it develops pink plumage.

Classified as a threatened species, Chilean flamingos are native to western South America where populations have declined mainly due to egg harvesting, interference in their wetland habitats and human activity near breeding sites.