Oakland, CA – February 12, 2020… Oakland Zoo doubles the size of their flamingo flamboyance – a group of flamingos – with the addition of ten new mixed-sex Lesser flamingos from the San Diego Zoo, bringing the flock to 19. The latest additions will mark the largest flamingo flock the Zoo has seen in quite some time. The Zoo's growth in this habitat will better the welfare of the flamingos and increase personal relationships within the flamboyance.
With the flamboyance growing to 19, there will be an opportunity for the mixed-sex flock to break off into smaller groups for increased socialization. A larger flock size provides the possibility for more courtship behaviors and the possibility of nest-building within those smaller socialized groups.
Along with this inclusion of new flamingos,the Zoo recently made changes to the habitat to help improve their home. This habitat reconstruction was developed in partnership with researchers at the University of Exeter in England. Flamingo expert, Dr. Paul Rose, who – along with psychology student Luke Jones – analyzed the Oakland Zoos’ flamingo behavior and suggested improvements to their habitat to better encourage natural and increased social behaviors. These changes proved a success and keepers, along with the Zoo’s Behavioral Observational Team have noted the flamingos appear to be enjoying their habitat much more, social interactivity has increased, and has created an opportunity for new members of the flock.
General welfare for flamingos in the wild is measured by large amounts of smaller mixed groups within a population. The addition of these birds and change in their habitat at Oakland Zoo will better represent what is seen in the wild.
The development of the Zoo's flamboyance was recommended by the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) Species Survival Plan (SSP). The ten new flamingos from San Diego Zoo are a part of an SSP exchange, with two Oakland Zoo males going to San Diego Zoo in return. SSP was developed by the AZA (which Oakland Zoo is accredited by) to help ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied AZA population.
"We are happy to contribute to genetic diversity in Zoos. We are excited for our flamboyance to enjoy a larger flock size," says Andrea Dougall,Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo.
Climate change continues to be the biggest threat to flamingo habitats in the wild, causing droughts, flooding, and an increase of toxins.
Last year, Oakland Zoo sent two Animal Care staff to help with the Lesser Flamingo Crisis of 2019 in South Africa. Over 2,000 chicks were abandoned by their parents due to a severe drought. This rescue effort, organized by AZA, was the largest rescue ever attempted for flamingos.
"The loss of the 2,000 chicks would have had a huge impact on the population. With the increased threat of climate change, I am sure this will happen again, but hopefully, not to the scale it did in 2019,” says Ann Marie Bisagno, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo.
Issues like these are the reason the Zoo strongly supports SSP programs. If there were ever to be a bottleneck in the diversity of birds in the wild, this SSP program could maintain a distinct genetic population for the wild flocks if needed.
The newest additions will spend the usual 30 days in quarantine at Oakland Zoo's Vet Hospital before joining their new family.
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ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO AND THE CONSERVATION SOCIETY OF CALIFORNIA:
Oakland Zoo, home to more than 750 native and exotic animals, is managed by the Conservation Society of California (CSC); anon-profit organization leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife locally and globally. With over 25 conservation partners and projects worldwide, the CSC is committed to conservation-based education and saving species and their habitats in the wild. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.