Keepers play mum to flamingo chicks at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park
FIVE flamingo chicks are having to be hand-reared by keepers at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park after their parents abandoned the eggs during a thunderstorm.
Keepers at the popular wildlife park are using syringes to feed the endangered Chilean flamingos after all the eggs were artificially hatched in an incubator.
A violent thunderstorm is believed to have caused the parents to simultaneously abandon their nests and forced keepers to intervene.
Longleat's Mark Tye said: "It's extremely unusual for both the parents to abandon their eggs at the same time. However, the storm was particularly severe and the adults decided to head for cover – leaving us to look after the eggs.
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"We carefully removed them from their nests and put them into an incubator, where they started hatching out within a week.
"The chicks are now almost a month old and doing extremely well, although they are keeping us busy as each one has to be fed up to five times a day."
Adult flamingos build a volcano-shaped nest and lay a single egg, which they then usually sit on for around a month. All chicks are born with white plumage, which they keep for around three years, and a straight bill, which gradually droops down as the bird grows.
At Longleat they eat a special flamingo diet that contains pigments essential for maintaining their distinct colour.
The name flamingo came from the Latin word for flame. The Romans considered flamingo tongues a delicacy.