Fort Worth Zoo celebrates hatchings of 17 lesser flamingos

New arrival (Photo courtesy Fort Worth Zoo)

The Fort Worth Zoo has announced the hatchings of 17 lesser flamingo chicks over the last month, with more on the way.

The Fort Worth Zoo boasts the most successful lesser flamingo breeding program in the world with the hatchings of 382 chicks since the program began in 2002, the zoo said in a news release. Lesser flamingos are extremely difficult to breed under human care and reproduce less than any other flamingo species found in U.S. zoos, the release said.

Born a fluffy white or gray, the chicks will develop the flamingo’s characteristic pink plumage by age 3 or 4, thanks to pigments or carotenoids found in their diet.

For years, the Fort Worth Zoo’s lesser flamingo collection was housed in an outdoor habitat that resulted in little breeding success, officials said. After making adjustments to the birds’ nesting habitat, which included adding heating lamps, a small pool and mirrors to provide the illusion of more birds, zoo staff celebrated the first successful hatching, thus creating the zoo’s lesser flamingo “love shack.”

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The zoo’s breeding efforts are important to creating a long-term, self-sustaining population of lesser flamingos in U.S. zoos. The birds are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as near threatened, primarily due to habitat alteration. For now, the Fort Worth Zoo’s new arrivals are housed behind-the-scenes, where they are receiving round-the-clock feedings and care.

Information for this article was provided by the Fort Worth Zoo.