Assisted Flamingo Chick Hatch

Wild Encounter program flamingos walking through the Zoo.
Wild Encounter program flamingos walking through the Zoo.

Everything in a flamingo’s world needs to be a social occasion!  Their lives are built around doing whatever everyone else is doing when everyone else is doing it.  This includes all aspects of their breeding cycle – from courtship displays all the way to building their mud nests to rearing their chicks.

After successfully hatching and fledging four chicks on exhibit this season, the Cincinnati Zoo’s greater flamingo flock started to become a little antsy.  Even those birds that were still incubating eggs were starting to spend more time off their nests…wanting to do what the majority was doing… and that was walking around.

Thus, we decided to pull the last three eggs under the parents to place in an incubator.  We then “candled” the eggs (placing them in front of a bright light) and found one was infertile, one was a late-term death, and the third contained a growing, active, vibrant embryo!  This egg was monitored for several days and seemed to be well on its way to hatching just fine.  On the morning of June 30, we found chick had “pipped” (broken through) his outer shell and was calling regularly.  (Parent birds and their chicks often “talk” to each other pre-hatch.)

After an incubation period of about 30 days, a flamingo egg usually takes 24-36 hours to hatch (from initial pip to total freedom from shell), so we were not too worried that not much progress had been made on the morning of July 1.  However, as the day went along with little change, we began to consider that we were not exactly sure what time it pipped (was it late 6-29 or early 6-30?) and that an assisted hatch might be in order.

I first pulled a little of the outer shell away from around the pip mark and determined chick was very dry and likely stuck.  What follows is a series of photos taken during the assisted hatch on the evening of July 1, 2014.

Below is a photo of the chick on Day 12!  It is currently being hand-reared with a slightly older flamingo.  These two are destined to join the group of four that takes part in the Wild Encounters programs marching around the zoo and greeting our guests on exhibit in Africa.    The more, the merrier with flamingos!

Flamingo chick - 12 days old.
Flamingo chick – 12 days old.