July 14, 2016
Audubon Zoo Welcomes Flamingo Chick
Guests Watch Hatching Take Place
(New Orleans, La.) - Just before closing time on Wednesday afternoon, Audubon Zoo visitors got to witness an unusual sight: the live hatch of a flamingo chick.
This was the first flamingo to exit its egg at the Zoo in more than five years, according to Curator of Birds Carolyn Atherton. "The chick hatched out while a large gathering of guests watched,'' Atherton said. "It was exciting that some of our guests got to see this.''
The magical event took place inside the habitat near the Zoo entrance that houses part of the collection of popular American flamingos, known for their long legs and striking pink - sometimes red-orange - hue. Atherton said more arrivals could be in the offing.
Several pairs of Audubon flamingos are currently sitting atop "dummy'' eggs (fakes filled with plaster) which are placed in the habitat to ensure that live eggs are not knocked off their nests and broken by the birds who are active and move about a great deal.
"We incubate the actual eggs artificially.'' Atherton said. "When they are about to hatch, we swap it back out on the parent's nest, leaving the live egg that is about to hatch.''
The flamingos' pink coloration comes from the high quantities of beta carotene in their diet. Chicks are whitish-grey until the pigment builds up, which can take a year or two.
Atherton said flamingos can be temperamental about breeding and Zoo staff has been trying different mud combinations to create ideal nesting conditions and mixing and matching the birds in an effort to make a connection. "We have three more fertile eggs that we are hoping will hatch out soon,'' she said.
The American flamingo - sometimes called Caribbean flamingos - is the only member of the species found naturally in North America. The bird is also found in the Caribbean and on the Galapagos islands.
Audubon Zoo has 37 flamingos in the "Uptown'' flock on the Zoo's entrance plaza and 62 more in the "downtown'' flock in a lagoon near the rear of the Cool Zoo water park.
Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Special Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.