The Fort Worth Zoo proudly announces the hatchings of 17 lesser flamingo chicks (Phoenicopterus minor) over the last month … and more are on the way! Lesser flamingos are extremely difficult to breed under human care and reproduce less than any other flamingo species found in U.S. zoos. The Fort Worth Zoo boasts the most successful lesser flamingo breeding program in the world, with the hatchings of 382 chicks (so far) since the program began in 2002. Born a fluffy white or gray, the chicks will eventually get that characteristic pink plumage by age 3 or 4, thanks to pigments or carotenoids found in their diet.
For years, the Zoo’s lesser flamingo collection was housed in an outdoor habitat that resulted in little breeding success. 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. And at that point, the Zoo’s lesser flamingo “love shack” was created.
The Zoo’s lesser flamingo breeding efforts are incredibly important to create a long-term, self-sustaining population of these birds in U.S. zoos – lesser flamingos are listed as near threatened by IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, primarily due to habitat alteration. For now, the chicks are housed behind-the-scenes where they are receiving around-the-clock feedings and care from keepers and their parents.