There’s a new addition to the Greater Flamingo family at New Zealand’s Auckland Zoo. The little chick hatched on January 9 in the Flamingo exhibit as an amazed group of zoo visitors looked on.
This is the first time a Flamingo chick hatched on exhibit at the zoo, and it’s also the first chick to be parent-reared at the zoo. (All of the other chicks hatched at the zoo have been hand-reared by zoo staff.)
The chick’s parents are Cheviot and Neil, who are also the parents of a young female named Otis. For the first few days after hatching, Cheviot and Neil shared the task of sitting on the chick until it learned to walk. Now, the chick explores on its own, with mom or dad close by.
As you look at these photos of the chick over its first nine days of life, you can see how the chick has changed. At first, the chick had a gold-colored egg tooth at the tip of its beak. This tiny projection is found in reptiles and some birds and helps the chick to internally pip and break through its eggshell. It eventually falls off as it is no longer needed.
Just after hatching, the chick had a red bill and plump pink legs. After about a week, the chick’s beak and legs turned very dark purple.
Greater Flamingos are native to Africa, India, and the Middle East. They are the largest of the world’s six Flamingo species, standing 43-59 inches tall as adults. A single egg is laid on a mud mound, and both parents help care for the chick. Young flamingos are grey in color and turn pink when they are a few years old. Flamingos’ pinkish color comes from the carotenoid pigments found in the food they eat, which includes small shrimp, blue-green algae, and other aquatic microorganisms.
Greater Flamingos are currently not under immediate threat, though because they inhabit wetlands, they are at risk from pollutants and toxins in waterways.