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Chilean flamingo

Phoenicopterus chilensis

Chilean flamingo

Flamingos are an ancient group of birds. Their fossil records date back to more than 10 million years ago.

Like all flamingos, the Chilean flamingo has striking pink plumage with crimson feathers along the edge of the wings. However, flamingos are not born with stunning colour. Their colour comes from carotenoid pigments which they consume as part of their diet.

Flamingos feed with their beak upside down. They tip their head into the water and filter feed, using special hair like adaptations. Which allow them to catch the small microorganisms that make up their diet.

The Chilean flamingo originates from central Peru, Boliva, Argentine and Chile. The word flamingo originates from the Portuguese language and means ‘red goose’.

Belfast Zoo’s flock of Chilean flamingos live at the zoo lake!

Habitat
Wetlands/marsh

Diet - Omnivore
The Chilean flamingo eats algae as well as aquatic invertebrates, such as molluscs and crustaceans.

Size
The average Chilean flamingo can be up to 145 centimetres long and weigh up to three kilograms.

Location
The Chilean flamingo originates from central Peru, Boliva, Argentine and Chile.

Conservation status
The IUCN considers the Chilean flamingo is likely to be threatened with extinction in the near future. It is listed in Appendix II by CITES.

Threats
The Chilean flamingo does not have any natural predators. The main threat comes from man. Habitat destruction is a major cause for concern.

Current population
In the last 40 years the population of the Chilean flamingo has dropped from 500,000 to 200,000, in the wild.

Zoo population
There are approximately 4,900 Chilean flamingos living in zoos and aquariums around the world.

Key to acronyms

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature

CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

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