NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A fuzzy whitish flamingo chick is running around after its parents in New Orleans’ zoo, and the Audubon Zoo’s curator of birds says it’s a very precocious critter.
“Flamingo chicks usually spend the first six to eight days after hatching on the nest mound, being fed and incubated by the parents. On Day 3, this little one had enough of the nest mound and kept jumping out,” Catherine Atherton said in a news release Tuesday. “Despite being returned to the nest several times, the chick kept leaving to explore. And it has been running around with the parents ever since.”
Zoo workers knew when it hatched July 4. They replace flamingo eggs with plaster-filled eggs to keep them from falling out of the shallow depressions atop the nests when their active parents move around. Fertile eggs stay in an incubator until they’re about to hatch. Then they’re returned to the nest and the dummy eggs are removed.
This was the zoo’s only fertile egg this season. It hatched almost exactly a year after the last two chicks at the zoo. And those had been the first to hatch at the zoo in more than five years.
American flamingos’ color isn’t part of their DNA but builds up as they eat shrimp and other crustaceans with lots of beta carotene in their shells. It can take a year or two for chicks to turn from whitish gray to pink or even orange.
Audubon Zoo has 40 flamingos in a flock on the Zoo’s entrance plaza and 53 more in a lagoon near the rear of the zoo.