The Fort Worth Zoo proudly announces the successful hatching of its 300th lesser flamingo chick (Phoenicopterus minor). This is the 20th chick to hatch just this year. Lesser flamingos are extremely difficult to breed in managed populations 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, a program that began in 2002.
Fort Worth Zoo staff has worked diligently over the last 18 years to perfect breeding, husbandry and juvenile care practices. In fact, the Zoo’s techniques for breeding and raising healthy chicks in managed populations have been utilized worldwide. For years, the Zoo’s lesser flamingo collection was housed in an outdoor, natural 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.
As part of the Zoo’s dedication to this species, the institution maintains the lesser flamingo studbook and coordinates the breeding program among all North American zoos, which helps maintain healthy, genetically diverse populations. Last year, the Fort Worth Zoo sent experienced staff to provide knowledge and hands-on aid to a South African flamingo rescue effort that required around-the-clock care for more than 2,000 abandoned wild chicks during record drought conditions. The Zoo’s lesser flamingo breeding efforts are incredibly important to creating a long-term, self-sustaining population of these birds in U.S. zoos. The Zoo’s efforts also create a wealth of research and information that contributes to conserving wild populations. Lesser flamingos are listed as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), primarily due to habitat alteration.
We want to thank our staff for their hard work in keeping the Zoo’s mission of conservation and education moving. We'd also like to extend an extra thank you to all bird department staff who came in for all of the late-night feedings.