CHILEAN FLAMINGO: A John Ball Zoo Achievement !

The animal care staff is very excited this summer. We recently had two of our Chilean Flamingos lay eggs. Now you might wonder why we are so excited. We have had flamingos in the South American exhibit since 1984 when we populated it with7 birds. Over the years, we have added birds trying to build our flock and as we lost them due to various medical reasons. During this time, zoos around the country who were trying to breed flamingos, realized the birds would not breed with fewer than 20 birds. Seeing as they are colonial breeders in the wild, they nest in a small area with several hundred to thousands of birds; you would think this was a no brainer. That brings us to 2010 when we had 7 males and 6 females who hardly ever showed any breeding behaviors. I wanted to acquire at least ten more birds to bring the flock up to breeding numbers. I soon realized that with shipping problems and inadequate quarantine space, acquiring birds would be difficult. At the same time, Zoo Atlanta was looking for organizations to take some Chilean Flamingo eggs off their hands. It was decided we would travel to Georgia and relieve them of 10 eggs. As many of you know, this resulted in 10 chicks. Forward to 2012; we had two pair show breeding behaviors and nest building, but no eggs.  This spring when we moved the flamingos outside, we immediately had breeding behaviors and nest building. On 23 June we had our first egg, ever, at JBZ! The second came on the 27th.  Since keeper staff did such a great job hand rearing the last chicks, we have pulled both eggs to artificially incubate them. We have given dummy eggs to the birds so you might see some nice green eggs on the nests. At this writing, we do not know if the eggs are fertile. We do have two more pairs that could give us eggs. We’re keeping our fingers crossed! If the eggs are fertile, they will hatch in a month. Stop on by in August and we might have some chicks taking daily walks. 

About Cheryl Dykstra

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Animal Management Supervisor, Birds and Fish

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