Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio welcomed two new characters to their flamingo flock on June 28 and 29.
After a few weeks of intensive care by zookeepers, the two chicks are now having swimming classes and undergoing an exercise regime as they prepare to be fully introduced to the rest of the flock. You’ll be able to catch a sight of the birds at the zoo during their short periods of exercise with the keepers in the main enclosure.
While the pair seem pretty lively now, hatching the eggs was no easy feat. Since the eggs are easy pickings for predatory birds in the open enclosures, the keepers take the eggs from the nests and replace them with artificial eggs to fool the mother. They then incubate the eggs so they can closely monitor them as they develop over the course of around one month. After they eventually hatch, they hand-raise the chicks, where they often go on to develop a lifelong relationship with their keeper.
As you have no doubt noticed, these chicks are lacking their classic pink feathers. That's because flamingos acquire their color through their diet of red and blue-green algae and crustaceans, which are packed with the organic red-orange pigment beta carotene and carotenoids, respectively. Some zoos also feed their flamingos with organic pellets enriched with pigment to help maintain and enhance their striking colors.