Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the successful hatching of a Chilean flamingo. This flamingo was brought to the Zoo as an egg by a Memphis Zoo keeper on July 16 and had been kept in an incubator to develop until it hatched in the early morning hours of Monday, July 29.
The chick will be held in the Veterinary Center Avian Incubation room, which is viewable by the public. Flamingo chicks grow fast, so guests are encouraged to visit sooner rather than later to see the chick while it's still small.
This is the first time Nashville Zoo has housed a Chilean flamingo. It will be hand reared by keeper and veterinary staff, so it can be a part of the Ambassador Animal program. The goal of the Ambassador Animal program is to encourage guests to learn more about animals and have up-close experiences through animal encounters, animal shows and outreach programs.
“We’re excited to welcome this Chilean flamingo to Nashville Zoo and as an ambassador for its species,” said Jac Menish, Nashville Zoo Behavioral Husbandry Curator. “Our goal is to eventually build a flock of ambassador flamingos, which will educate the public about how threatened this species is in the wild and ways humans can help them survive.”
The sex of the chick will be determined within the next couple of weeks. Gender determination is based on the biological materials that remain in the egg post-hatch. Those materials are sent to a lab for genomic analysis and they provide the information on the gender in lieu of taking blood samples when the chick is older.
The Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) is considered near threatened by the IUCN Red List and their populations are in decline due to energy production and mining, biological resource use, human intrusions and disturbance and natural system modifications.
Nashville Zoo recently sent an avian keeper to Bolivia to help research and band three species of flamingos, including St. James, Andean and Chilean. The keeper was able to work with the flamingos directly and gain knowledge about what is impacting them in the wild.
“Nashville Zoo staff are working closely with the flamingos of South America to assist in the long-term monitoring of these vulnerable birds in the wild,” said David Oehler, Nashville Zoo Vice President. “As one of the most recognizable birds in the world, our newly acquired Chilean flamingo will help us tell that story to our guests and assist us in preserving the harsh, but beautiful habitats the flamingos need to survive.”
Unlike the bright pink hue of the Caribbean flamingo found in the parts of the United States, the Chilean flamingo has a much more faint pink plumage with black and gray secondary feathers. These flamingos are found in warm, tropical environments with high altitudes in South America, specifically Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru. Because the waters and surrounding soils in the areas they live in are alkaline, most of the local area is barren of vegetation and is desert-like.
Nashville Zoo is committed to the strategic, sustainable planning of conservation populations for species such as the Chilean flamingo. The Zoo is working with the Chilean Flamingo Species Survival Plan® to ensure the conservation population is preserved into the future. Nashville Zoo has been home to Caribbean flamingos since opening the Flamingo Lagoon exhibit in 2010.