Johannesburg Zoo has 7 flamingo chicks, 2 hand-reared.

Every spring, Johannesburg zoo’s flock of flamingos gets busy with preparations for their new chicks. Flamingos start laying eggs around September & October, after they have carefully built raised nests from mud in their enclosure. Weeks before breeding season starts keepers provide clay-like substrate to the enclosure for the birds to build with. Initially the clay is kept wet once a week to ensure nest stay moist and keep their shape. Unfortunately, the hen sometimes makes the mistake of laying an egg on the grass or the egg may roll off the nest. For those eggs abandoned by the parents’ zoo keepers collect and incubate them for 28 to 30 days in the hope that the chicks will hatch and survive. This is no easy task as the eggs need very specific conditions of 37.5 degrees Celcius and 75% humidity to grow.

The first egg laid this season unfortunately rolled off of the nest and was collected by bird keeper, Elaine Bratt. It was incubated from 22nd September and to Elaine’s delight a little chick hatched on 20th October. Nu is officially the first flamingo chick of 2011 and is being cared for around the clock just as its parents would do. Nu was joined by Kuba on 8th November and the two live in the zoo’s bird rearing facility called “The Brooder Room”. Each has its own room with a heat lamp to keep the temperature constant. The chicks are fed every 2 to 3 hours a special diet of sardines, shrimp, boiled egg, maize meal, calcium and multivitamins.

Since 11th November, five more chicks hatched successfully and are being raised by their parents in the flamingo enclosure. Keepers are expecting at least another five eggs to hatch in the enclosure soon and one in the brooder room.

Kuba will be introduced to Nu once big and strong enough to take care of itself and at three or four months old the pair will be reintroduced into the adult enclosure. This process will take place gradually as flamingos don’t easily accept newcomers into their flock. Nu and Kuba will initially occupy separate pen adjacent to the adult camp, spending a few hours a day with the others. Eventually they will fend for themselves and will be left to find a position with the others. In this instance integration will be easier for Nu and Kuba because they have each other as company.  

You are invited to visit these new birds and see how they are adapting to their new environment. Should you be interested, please contact me to make arrangements.

Prepared Candice Segal and issued by Letta Madlala Brand and Communications Manager on behalf of the Johannesburg Zoo. END.


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