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Zoo keepers at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park have nicknamed five Chilean Flamingo chicks “Thunderbirds” after the eggs were abandoned by their parents during a thunderstorm.

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Photo Credit:  Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

A violent thunderstorm apparently caused the parents to flee the nest and take shelter.  When the adult Flamingoes did not return to the nest, zoo keepers at the United Kingdom zoo collected the eggs from the nests and placed them in an incubator, where they hatched.  Now about a month old, the five chicks are fed by syringe five times per day.

Adult flamingos build a volcano-shaped nest and lay a single egg, which they then usually sit on for around a month.  “It’s extremely unusual for all the parents to abandon their eggs at the same time, however the storm was particularly severe and the adults decided to head for cover – leaving us to look after the eggs,” said Longleat’s Mark Tye.

All Flamingo chicks are born with white plumage, which they keep for around three years.  The bright red pigment in Flamingoes’ feathers is derived from pigments in the small crustaceans and other microscopic plants that the birds eat.  In zoos, special pigments are added to the Flamingoes’ diet to maintain their brilliant hues.

Chilean Flamingoes are native to lakes high in the Andes Mountains of South America and can easily withstand cold temperatures.