Pretty flamingos at Longleat

THE latest additions to the bird and animal life at Longleat safari park are a host of flamingo chicks. There has been a summer baby boom for the flamboyant pink Chilean flamingos, with 14 chicks already hatched and more on the way.

All chicks are born with white plumage, which they keep for around three years, and a straight bill, which gradually droops down as they grow.

Keeper Lauren Hooper-Bow said: “We are extremely pleased with the high hatching success rate among the flamingos this year. With the number of eggs still to hatch, it could be our best year to date and it’s particularly welcome as in 2019 heavy snow showers prevented the flamingos from sitting on any of their eggs.

“This year’s success is likely to be down to a combination of factors including good weather during the egg hatching period, having a large colony and the fact so many of the eggs were fertile.”

Flamingos lay a single egg on top of a tall cone nest. Fully grown they are around a-metre-and-a-half tall, and can weigh anywhere up to seven kilos. They live 15 to 20 years in the wild, but in captivity, safe from predators, they can reach ages of 70 years.

Chilean flamingos can survive at high altitude in the Andes Mountains. They are also significantly more able to deal with the cold than their Caribbean counterparts.

In the wild, flamingos eat small crustaceans and other microscopic animals and plants, which are obtained by filter feeding. When adult, the continuously-moving beak acts as an efficient filter for food collection when water is pumped through the bristles of the mouth.

The flamingos’ famous pink plumage comes from pigments in their diet which is replicated in their special feed at Longleat.