Chris Reid and I discussed flamingos on this morning’s Zoo Knew segment (heard every Sunday at 7:15 am) on the Weekend Wake-up Show on CJOB 68. Chris’s theme today was Valentine’s Day and what better animal for February 14th than flamingos!? The zoo is open year round and visiting the flamingos, even in the winter, is a great way to spend an afternoon. You might even be lucky enough to watch the flamingos dance for you! The whole flock gets involved and they use the whole “dancing floor” to strut their stuff, show off their colourful feathers and create quite the noisy ruckus. If you would like to visit the Assiniboine Park Zoo today to see the flamingos, the zoo is open from 10 am to 4 pm.
For more information on this month’s special Zoodoption Animal of the Month, the flamingo, please visit www.zoosociety.com
- A special animal is available to be zoodopted every month for the special rate of $25.00. You can Zoodopt any animal of your choice at any level during the year, but if you choose our “Animal of the Month” you will receive the same package as the Friend level for the special price of $25.00.
Information on Flamingos
- Long legs, a long, curved neck, a gooselike voice, and down-curved bills adapted for filter feeding, are characteristics of all flamingo species.
- The joint in their leg about halfway up that looks like a backward knee is actually an ankle. And, like all birds, they walk on their toes.
- Brackish inland lakes, coastal shores, mudflats, saltpans, saline lagoons
- Algae, small crustaceans, molluscs, and aquatic insects in the wild
- Poultry pellets, dried shrimp, meat and bone meal at the zoo
- Here at the zoo we include synthetic canthaxanthin (a carotenoid pigment) to the flamingos diet to avoid their feathers losing the beautiful colouring. A similar pigment is found naturally in the crustaceans that they eat in the wild.
- The angled beak of the flamingo has a sieve‑like structure for capturing small aquatic organisms. They will stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom. They then tip their heads upside down, flutter their bills and strain water through their bill, catching food in their lamellae.
- The word flamingo is originally derived from the Portuguese for ‘red goose’
- Flamingos are an ancient group of birds. Their fossil records date back about 10 million years ago.
- Both male and female, provide their young with a type of milk called crop milk.
- Flamingos have different leg coloring from species to species.
- Flamingos are naturally born white.
- Most flamingo populations require a large colony for successful breeding. This poses difficulties for breeding flamingos in zoos. Small groups have been tricked into displaying breeding activity by using mirrors (making it look like the group is larger than it really is).
- There are six species, four native to the Americas and two living in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Some authorities recognize five species and consider the Caribbean and greater flamingos to be sub-species.
Caribbean Flamingo: (Phoenicopterus ruber)
- We have approximately 30 Caribbean flamingos, housed in two flocks at the zoo.
- The Caribbean flamingo is also known as the American or roseate flamingo.
Size: Approximately 80 – 145 cm (31 –57 in.) long
- Females tend to be smaller than males
Weight: Approximately 1.9 – 3 kg (4.2-6.6 lbs)
Range: South America and the Caribbean with a small population in the Galapagos
Status: Not threatened
- Population decline due to pollution, loss of habitat and hunting.
- Total population is estimated 80,000 – 90,000 birds.
Greater Flamingo: (Phoenicopterus roseus)
- The Assiniboine Park Zoo acquired a dozen greater flamingos in the winter of 2007.
- The greater flamingo is lighter in colour then the Caribbean and is the most widespread of all flamingo species.
Size: 91 to 127 cm (36 to 50 in)
- Wingspan is 140-165 cm
Weight: Average 8.75 lbs (4 kg)
Range and Status:
- Southern Africa: 55,000 (decreasing). West Africa: 30,000-60,000 (trend unknown). Eastern Africa: 35,000 (decreasing). West Mediterranean: 80,000 (increasing). East Mediterranean and Asia: 500,000 (stable)
- World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
- BirdLife International
- Sea World Infobooks
- Assiniboine Park Zoo Education Archives
Compiled by Scott Gray and Jenna Harrison, Zoological Society of Manitoba
Revised February 13, 2010