For only the second time in its history, Auckland Zoo has welcomed a flamingo chick into the world. The chick hatched on 3 January.

In 2014, the zoo made headlines for being the first in Australasia to breed Greater flamingo chicks, as well as the first zoo in the world to successfully breed from an entirely hand-reared flock. 

Former exotic birds team leader, now head of capital works and infrastructure, Michael Batty raised and transported Auckland Zoo’s flock of greater flamingos to New Zealand in 2001, from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Slimbridge, England. Along with Pridelands team leader Nat Sullivan, he assisted with the hatching of the new chick.

"The chick was taking longer than usual to hatch, so we decided to give it a helping hand by very carefully removing some of its egg shell," says Michael. This is a difficult and delicate task, but luckily the chick welcomed the assistance.

Pridelands Team Leader Nat Sullivan has been monitoring the chicks' progress since incubation. "It is doing really well. It’s steadily getting bigger and more vocal, and is even starting to stand on one leg," says Nat. "It's certainly been keeping us busy with regular feedings and check-ups, but of course none of us mind, it’s a really cool little chick and great to see it improving every day."

Young flamingos lack the pink feathering for which these birds are famed. This pink plumage develops over their first three years, due to the carotenoid pigment in their diet, which is high in alpha and beta-carotene (humans take in beta-carotene when they eat carrots). The sex of this new chick will not be determined for so​me time and it will be a few months before visitors can come and see it, but the zoo will be posting updates on its website, Facebook​, twitter and Instagram.

Greater flamingo facts:

  1. Auckland Zoo has a flock of Greater flamingos
  2. Apart from one in Australia, this is the only flock of flamingos in Australasia
  3. Both parent flamingos build the nest, and these are mounds made of mud, small stones, straw and feathers
  4. These mounds can be as high as 30cm and are shaped like a volcano. Mound building begins up to six weeks before the eggs are laid
  5. A female flamingo only lays one egg on the nest, but both parents take turns at sitting on the egg until it hatches – which takes about one month
  6. A baby flamingo is a brown/grey colour and does not turn pink until it reaches two years of age
  7. There are six different types (species) of flamingo - the Greater flamingo is the tallest, growing up to 150cm
  8. Groups of flamingos can-be-called flocks, a stand or flamboyance
  9. Their webbed feet are used to stir up the mud and water when they are looking for food. Having webbed feet also helps them swim
  10. They get their bright pink colour from eating shrimp-like crustaceans
  11. Flamingos have long pink legs – and their knees are actually their ankles
  12. When resting or sleeping, flamingos stand on one leg with the other leg tucked up under their body. It’s a flamingo’s most comfortable position! 

Flamingo chick hatches at Auckland Zoo

For only the second time in its history, Auckland Zoo has welcomed a flamingo chick into the world.