Flamingo chicks debut at Lincoln Park Zoo

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Newly debuted flamingo chicks stand out among their pinker, more mature cohorts. | Lincoln Park Zoo photo

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Five new Chilean flamingo chicks are starting to show their colors at Lincoln Park Zoo.

The chicks had been hand-reared behind the scenes since hatching last September and made their debut last week with the rest of the flock in the zoo’s Waterfowl Lagoon.

The three females and two females still have gray feathers of growing flamingos, making them easy to pick out among the pinker plumage of their more mature cohabitants.

“The growing birds have added a nice boost of youthful energy to what had formerly been an all-adult flock,” Lincoln Park Zoo president Kevin Bell said in a statement.

As fuzzy youngsters, the chicks were incubated to increase their chances of survival and thus totally dependent on their human caretakers, zoo officials said.

They were gradually introduced to other flamingos and are now on a mature diet that includes carotenoid, the natural pigment that gives the birds their iconic hue. It typically takes about two years for them to reach full coloration.

The chicks will be on display intermittently as they acclimate to the outdoor habitat. Chilean flamingos — native to Peru, Brazil and Argentina — can tolerate extreme conditions, making them well-suited for Chicago’s harsh winters, zoo officials said.

“These chicks are a true testament to the dedicated animal care staff here at Lincoln Park Zoo,” birds curator Sunny Nelson said.