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More Than 2,000 Abandoned Flamingo Chicks Saved by Rescuers

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Flamingos are strange creatures. They look like a bunch of animal odds and ends put together and spray-painted salmon pink. And the smell, well, you can always tell when you’re nearing the flamingo exhibit at the zoo.

While flamingos aren’t exactly commonly seen outside of zoos, they’re a major part of our culture now. They’re often pictured as pool party equipment, and people advertise their brand of weirdness with lawn flamingos.

But this year has been rough for the leggy birds. One of the most popular breeding grounds in South Africa has a reservoir that is quickly drying up, leaving thousands of the baby birds at risk.

When the water level at Kamfers Dam, Northern Cape province, got too low, the parent flamingos simply flew the coop. The sea of pink up and left, leaving all their little gray-fuzzed babies to die.

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The next step seemed obvious to many: Rescue the baby flamingos. But there were others who weren’t so sure that stepping in right then without extreme caution was the best course of action. The CEO of BirdLife South Africa wondered if the appropriate measures were taken in these rescue efforts.

“These endearing little birds were apparently left stranded and dying by their parents as the waters of the dam dried up,” CEO Mark Anderson told The Guardian.

“(But) was the decision to step in and remove the abandoned chicks and eggs the right one? Who made this decision, under what authority and in terms of what expertise?”

Several groups have gotten in on these efforts to extract and raise the flamingos, including the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds.

“The birds started to breed, and had eggs and chicks, and the water level started to decrease and they started to abandon these chicks and eggs,” research manager Katta Ludnyia told NPR.

“We rehabilitate, that’s our business, and with the aim of releasing back into the wild,” rehabilitation manager Nicky Stander told The Guardian. “We have very large facilities here that were built last year. And we thought we were the best people to contribute to this project.”

“As time goes on and they grow, we are going have to adapt the way that we house them and make sure that they have long running space so they can exercise their legs,” she added.

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Over 500 of the chicks were flown to Cape Town to a Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds facility. Because they were so new and fragile, only 70 percent of them made it through the first day.

Dozens of volunteers are helping prep food, feed, and care for the baby flamingos, who need to eat every three hours. Rescuers hope to be able to release the flamingos in a few months’ time, but that means a lot of volunteers and donations for the foreseeable future.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking