New arrivals delight crowds at zoo park

Baby Flamingo at Flamingoland. Pic Richard Ponter 143219a
Baby Flamingo at Flamingoland. Pic Richard Ponter 143219a

A new flamingo chick has been taking its first steps at Flamingo Land zoo and theme park near Malton.

The park is also celebrating another new addition in the form of a baby vicuña – similar to an alpaca – seven weeks ago.

Keepers were delighted when the Chilean flamingo chick hatched out on August 2, as the bird is the emblem of the park and bears its name.

Zoo manager Ross Snipp said: “It’s our first one since 2012 and we have another 15 eggs all due to hatch out any time now.

“Flamingos are very reliant on the weather - last year it was a lovely hot, dry summer which is great for the park, but terrible for flamingos.

“They build a mud nest, which looks like a mini volcano, so the ground needs to be really soft.

“Everything was baked so hard last year, but this year’s been perfect as we’ve had some rain.”

Ross added that it’s too early to tell if the chick is male or female and that the only way to find out is to send a feather off for DNA testing after six months.

Adult flamingos are pink, but when chicks are born they are white and fluffy.

Babies are fed “crop milk” by their parents which is blood-red in colour. The chicks then turn from white to grey when they’re 12 months old, at which point the pink colour starts to come through.

At Flamingo Land they are fed a special diet of pellets, but in the wild the pink colour comes from their diet of small crustaceans and algae.

The park is working closely with zoos across the UK to coordinate the breeding of flamingos to help increase their numbers.

The baby vicuña has become a star attraction in the park’s South American section since it was born in full view of 
scores of guests.

Ross explained: “It’s been a long time coming - we’ve had the parents together for a number of years. We’d started to give up hope.

“The keepers had only said a few days beforehand that they thought she might be pregnant. A few days later she went into labour.”

Both mum and baby – a female – are doing well. Vicuñas are native to Peru, northwestern Argentina, Bolivia, and northern Chile.

l On Friday August 22 Flamingo Land is hosting Party in the Park headlined by chart star Tinchy Stryder. Visitors can get half-price admission with a voucher in this week’s Scarborough News. See page 22 for details.