CHILEAN FLAMINGO (phoenicopterus chilensis)
Habitat: Highlands of central Peru to Tierra del Fuego in South America. Mainly in high-altitude lakes.
Longevity: 20 - 25 years in wild. Possible 35 to 40 years in captivity
Diet: Algae, shrimps, mollusks, and insect larvae - In captivity a special prepared pellet that contains carotenoids, which are needed for feather coloring and breeding condition.
Most people easily recognize one of the most bizarre and beautiful of birds, the flamingos. While often thought of as tropical birds, some of the South American flamingos encounter freezing temperatures and ice-covered water. In captivity, most flamingos kept in temperate regions are provided with heated quarters in the winter months. Flamingo feed with their head upside down, filtering small algae, insect larvae and other crustaceans from the water through the lamellae in their bill. This acts as a strainer separating food items from the water in one continuous motion. This filter feeding is unusual and is similar to the system used by the baleen whales. Flamingos nest in large colonies synchronizing their egg laying so that the chicks hatch and can be reared together at the same time. The nest is an elevated mud mound, which is concave ar the top to hold the single white egg.Both parents share incubation of the egg, which hatches in about 28 days. The newly hatched chick is quite weak for a few days and remains on the best for the first week. The chick is fed a liquid secreted from the parent bird;s crop for the 70 to 80 day rearing period.
The Chilean Flamingos at the Natural Bridge Zoo can be seen nesting during our summer months at the front part of the zoo. We feel that it is the responsibility of the modern zoological part to breed threatened species, not only to gain additional information about that species, but also to provide captive raised birds without plundering the wild populations.