In Focus – Flamingo

Status: Least concern

Meaning of Name: Spanish word Flamenco, meaning fire (bright colour)

Threats: Development, poaching

Left in Wild: 950,000

Flamingos come in variety of colours from light pink to dark red. Their color changes according to the flamingo’s diet of plankton and algae and varies dependent on the food source in their region. For example a flamingo that eats only Blue-Green algae will be darker in colour.   

Flamingos are monogamous and they only lay one egg each year. A Flamingo’s chick is born grey taking up to 3 years to develop their colour.  A group of flamingos are called a Flamboyance

Flamingos relax by standing on one leg, they even sleep that way. It’s not known why flamingos stand on one leg but one theory is that it’s a way that the bird  keeps its body temperature regulated. 

There are six species of flamingos:

Greater Flamingo is the largest and most widespread of the flamingos. They can be found in parts of Africa South West Asia and Southern Europe. 

Lesser Flamingo is located in parts of Africa and North West India they are the most abundant of all the flamingo species.

James and Andean Flamingo are located in Peru, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. The James flamingo was thought to be extinct in 1924, however in 1957 a flamboyance of these were discovered living in the Andes mountains.

American Flamingos are found in Mexico, Caribbean Islands and Galapagos Islands.

Chilean Flamingois found in Southern South America.

A flamingo in the wild will generally live for up to 30 years. In zoos they can live well over 50 years. Greater a greater flamingo from Adelaide Zoo was known to be the oldest flamingo in the world living to the age of 83. Sadly his life was ended by his long time keepers after suffering arthritis and the effects of old age.  He leaves behind his longtime friend of  65 years, Chilly, the only Flamingo left in Australia.

RIP Greater, 1933 to 2014

Stu’s zoo pick for the Flamingo

I have not been to Adelaide zoo (going soon) so have never seen a flamingo in an Australian zoo. Flamingos are not permitted to be exported into Australia so sadly the last surviving flamingo in Australia is Chilly a Chilean Flamingo at Adelaide zoo. Zoo keepers are currently working on ways to minimize poor Chilly’s anxiety after losing his longtime friend Greater. I will keep you posted on their efforts.

Below are photos and the name of zoos with excellent Flamingo enclosures that I have visited recently.
Flamingos on safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Flamingo Cove – SeaWorld Orlando
Ocean Park – Hong Kong

Pictures of Flamingos












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