Philly Zoo welcomes its first baby flamingo in more than 20 years

The first flamingo chick was born at the Philadelphia Zoo in 20 years. (Courtesy of the Philadelphia Zoo)

The first flamingo chick was born at the Philadelphia Zoo in 20 years. (Courtesy of the Philadelphia Zoo)

It’s been just about a month since the Philadelphia Zoo reopened to the public — with coronavirus mitigation protocols in place — and visitors may soon be tickled pink by its newest resident.

A Caribbean flamingo chick hatched on July 12, the first of this species born at the zoo in more than 20 years.

The tiny tot starts out as a gray fluffy bird at just a few inches tall — but will eventually grow to be 5 feet tall with a gray-pink plumage.

Zoo staff have yet to handle the newborn to determine its sex, height or weight, as to avoid disturbing the new family and the rest of the flock during this sensitive development stage. 

The baby will have its first public outing Wednesday afternoon on the zoo’s Facebook Live program PhillyZoo@2

The first flamingo chick was born at the Philadelphia Zoo in 20 years. (Courtesy of the Philadelphia Zoo.)

“We are so pleased to welcome this new flamingo chick to our growing flock,” said Ian Gereg, the zoo’s vice president for animal well-being. “After several years of preparing this flock and their enclosure for successful nesting, we are all very happy to watch the chick’s development under the care of its doting parents.” 

To celebrate the little one’s birth, zoo employees are calling for the public’s assistance in naming the new arrival. Running through August 9 at 5 p.m., anyone can vote as many times as they’d like here for one of these three names deriving from the Spanish language (Flamingos are native to the Caribbean, and Central and South America): 

  • “Rosado” meaning pink
  • “Alto” meaning tall
  •  “Flaco” meaning slim or thin

Flamingo species are known for having close-knit familial ties — with the equal sharing of parenting duties, including incubating their eggs for about a month and feeding their offspring. As they grow, chicks become increasingly more independent from their parents — but they do stay connected over time through frequent vocalizations that they recognize as each other’s distinct calls.

The Philadelphia Zoo — which is the oldest zoo in the country — had an early hand in flamingo research, which led to the discovery of what makes the bird bright pink: the species’ diet and carotenoids — colorful organic pigments produced by plants and algae. In the 1940s, the zoo developed a new diet for flamingos that included carrots, resulting in a change in its feather color and pigmentation, which was then shared with zoos across the world.

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