Everyone loves baby animals, so in this week’s Wild Encounters, Micah Rumsey is taking us back to the flamingo exhibit to check in on their three new chicks. Here’s his interview with Senior Bird Keeper Sarah Faugno.
Micah: Welcome back to Wild Encounters. Now there’s one thing we love more than animals at Riverbanks Zoo. It’s baby animals at Riverbanks Zoo and that’s why we’re back with the flamingos because we have three baby flamingos out here on exhibit, two of them a little bit older, one of them brand new, just ten or eleven days old, so tell us about these new additions to the flamingo exhibit.
Sarah: Well, we’re really, really excited to have these three flamingos with us. We, every year, do have breeding here. It’s been the first time in a little while that we’ve had three. We’ve had two for quite some time, two chicks every year, but we got three this year which is wonderful. We have one that’s a little over 30 days old, one that’s not quite 30 days old, and like you said, our youngest at eleven.
Micah: So, we saw them being brought out this morning. Describe that process that they go through pretty regularly early on in their lives.
Sarah: They do. After they hatch, the eggs get incubated at the bird center where we were this morning. After they hatch, we bring them down and give them back to their parents. Their parents raise them all throughout the day but we do bring them in at night just to keep them safe and secure from the elements that are outside. First thing in the morning, we weight the chicks just like we did this morning and bring them right back outside and give them to their parents, so again, their parents can go ahead and keep raising them throughout the day.
Micah: And once they get old enough, they’re walking over here on their own.
Sarah: They are. It takes a little while to learn the pathway for where to go to the exhibit, but yes, once they are able to make the distance and make the long walk, they’ll walk from the bird center all the way over to the exhibit to meet their parents.
Micah: And the flamingos, pretty good parents out here, right?
Sarah: Yeah, they sure are. We have a very experienced pair that has a chick this year and we have a brand new pair, their first chick, and they’re both doing spectacular this year. We’re very excited.
Micah: And you’ll see them walking around doting on them, making sure that they’re safe, right?
Sarah: They do. If you watch some of the parents, any of the other flamingos gets too close to them, those parents will chase them right away. If the chick is by itself and it calls, both parents will come right over to them. So they do, they watch their kids very closely.
Micah: And we have seen a few examples of them already feeding them this morning. What does that process look like?
Sarah: So what you’ll see is our little chick will beg, so it will kind of put his head up and call to the parents. The parents will tuck their heads down, their beaks will meet and they actually produce crop milk, in them, it’s all there as they produce that and they regurgitate that to their chicks. Something that’s really neat about their crop milk is that it’s bright red. So you might notice there’s some red stuff on the chicks…they’re ok. It’s just the crop milk that their parents are feeding them.
Micah: Very interesting. And so of course, while seeing the baby flamingos here on Wild Encounters is great, you probably want to come down here and see them in person, so head on over to Riverbanks Zoo. They’re out here every day now and you can come down and check them out and watch the parents do a fantastic job raising these new chicks. So we’ll see you next time here on Wild Encounters.