THIS little flamingo chick caused drama at Edinburgh Zoo when it was abandoned by its parents – only for a same-sex couple to intervene and bring it up as their own.
The zoo has added five Chilean flamingo chicks to its flock of 33 adult birds since the end of summer, following successful breeding for the first time since 2010. The chicks are now between three and seven weeks old.
One of the chicks had a rough start in life when its parents knocked it out of the nest, but luckily a same-sex male couple stepped in and adopted it.
Senior bird keeper Nick Dowling said: “We weren’t short of drama in the flamingo flock this year.
“When the first egg arrived the parenting couple got really excited and accidentally knocked it off the nest - their natural instinct was then to abandon the egg. We don’t usually intervene with our flamingo flock but as this was our first egg since 2010, we carefully picked it up and placed it back on the nest.
“Luckily, one of our same-sex male couples went straight on to the nest, fostered the egg and raised it as their own.
”Edinburgh Zoo has homed Chilean flamingos for over 40 years and the flock now has 38 including the new chicks.
The oldest residents in the Zoo are three 53-year-old males.
The birds are native to South America where their wild population has been recorded at around 300,000.
But species is labelled as “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List as it is increasingly under threat from habitat loss, egg-harvesting and hunting.
Colin Oulton, team leader at the zoo’s bird section, said: “This year has been good for us so far.
“We’ve had five chicks and it’s the first time we’ve bread since 2010. We are obviously delighted.
“The youngest one is maybe about nine to 10 inches in height. It looks like rounded ball of grey fluff with a pink beak.
“Our flamingo flock has about twice as many males as females. Both birds are equally capable of raising youngsters.
“We’ve been able to utilise these male male bonds and it’s working out fairly well. Male male pairs are equally able to rear youngsters.”