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Sussex Zoo Tickled Pink with Flamingo Eggs

Keepers’ efforts to encourage breeding within the Chilean flamingo group at Drusillas Park, East Sussex finally paid off this week when the zoo was rewarded with two perfect eggs. 

The flamingos arrived at Drusillas in 1982 and despite many notable breeding successes throughout the years, there has not been a successful hatching since 2009. This year the zoo was determined to break the cycle and over the last few months they have tried all manner of ways to encourage the birds’ natural courtship behaviours. 

To get the feathered favourites in the mood, the zoo team began by playing them soothing love songs, including Manfred Mann’s Pretty Flamingo, Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings and seduction songs of love lyricists Barry White and Marvin Gaye. The mega mix was played alongside pre-recorded mating vocalisations of Chilean flamingos attained from Zoo Atlanta, in Georgia. 

To egg on the romance, the keepers also placed mirrors in the enclosure to create the illusion of a fuller flock. Flamingos are very sensitive to their surroundings and feel safer in a larger group. 

The keepers supplemented the flamingos’ diet with extra protein to ensure that all the birds were feeling in the pink. They even started to build the nests and placed a fake egg on top, making sure the birds had plenty of mud to continue the job. 

Their hard work finally paid off when the flamingos began courtship displays, which include head swinging, loud vocalisations and spreading their wings to reveal their brightly coloured feathers beneath. This was closely followed by the arrival of two freshly laid eggs on 9th and 14th May, which are likely to hatch next month following an incubation period of approximately 28 days. 

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “Chilean Flamingos are native to western South America where populations are threatened mainly due to water pollution, interference in their wetland habitats, as well as human activity near breeding sites.” 

“We are thrilled that the flamingos have laid two eggs. We are keeping our fingers crossed for successful hatching and chick rearing of these beautiful birds.”

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