The Greater Flamingo 

Given its name, it should come as no surprise that the greater flamingo is the largest of the 6 species of flamingo found around the world. The greater flamingo can grow up to 1.5m tall, with a wingspan to match their height

However, there are plenty of other things apart from its size that makes this flamingo great. Let’s start at the beginning.

Eggs to legs

Flamingos build a nest on the ground out of mud, small stones and feathers. It can take a pair up to 6 weeks to build (still quicker than your average house build)! In the nest, the female will lay a single white egg which the parents take turns incubating. Upon hatching, you would be forgiven in thinking the eggs have been swapped out, as the chicks are born grey! It can take up to a couple of years for them to become pink – how you ask? It is all in their diet. Their colouration comes from carotenoid pigments found in food. It is found naturally in a variety of plants and animals including algae and shrimps.

The long legs and partially webbed feet of a flamingo makes feed times particularly lively – these legs are perfectly adapted to wade into water, whilst stamping their feet on the muddy bottom, mixing up the food particles. They then hold their bill upside down in the water and swish their head from side to side. Inside their bill, it works a little like a sieve. Their huge tongue sucks in water from the front and pushes it out the sides of their bill. Broom-like plates trap and filter out tiny organisms such as shrimp and planktonic algae. Delicious!

At the Zoo

Our flamboyance (flock or group) of flamingoes arrived in 2001 from Slimbridge Zoo, England, where they had been hand raised. Since then, the flock has grown! The first chick born in 2014, was incubated and hand-raised by the keepers, until they were ready to join the wider flock. In 2018, our keepers could see the parents were exhibiting new behaviours – including incubating their eggs at night, and then the decision was made to let the flock rear their chicks. Initially, any eggs are pulled by the keepers and artificially incubated, while the flamingo parents look after a dummy egg. The real egg is put back under the parents just prior to hatching. From there, keepers take a back seat to allow the flamingo parents to raise the chicks themselves! Our egg-cellent Bird Team is always looking for ways to ensure our flamingoes have the best habitat, and an environment that naturally encourages these behaviours, giving our ‘flamboyance’ the best chance at rearing their chicks.

Going swimmingly

The pool is a very important aspect of the flamingo habitat. The floor is lined with rubber matting to protect the flamingo’s sensitive feet. It is large and deep so the flamingo can swim, wade and rest in the water. The shallow edge allows them to flock together, interact socially and display natural behaviour such as head flagging and wing marches.


Flamingo chicks receive a health check!

Recently bird keepers Sarah and Letitia performed quick health checks on each chick, to ensure they’re looking healthy and developing well. This is part of the science of care we provide all of the animals at the Zoo as part of the five domains of animal welfare model.

In the Wild

Origin: Greater flamingos are the most widespread of the 6 species of flamingo and can be found in Africa, India and parts of southern Europe

Habitat: Lagoons, lakes, estuaries and marshlands

Conservation status: Least concern


Meet our newest flamingo chick!

The first of our flock to hatch under its parents (and the first for Australasia!), this unflappable little chick is venturing further from the egg mound and even to our back of house area, under the watchful eyes of parents Neil and Cheviot.


What’s better than a flamingo chick? Well…two of them!

We caught up with Pridelands keeper David who filled us in on the exciting developments within the flock and just how unique and special these two flock-reared chicks are.