Gay flamingo dads raise abandoned chick and maybe the world isn’t terrible after all
Devoted queer flamingo dads adopted and lovingly cared for an abandoned chick in a heartwarming scene at a UK zoo.
The American flamingo chick was left in a nest while still an egg at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, England. Zookeepers kept the egg in an incubator to help it survive while they searched for adoptive parents before the egg hatched.
They eventually turned to Hudson and Blaze, a same-sex couple that proved themselves as “experienced flamingo parents”. Zookeepers realised the queer pairing was “taking care of their shared nest” and decided they were the best parental candidates for the abandoned egg in the whole “flamboyance” – which is apparently the name for a group of flamingos.
Once the egg was given to the proud parents, Hudson and Blaze sat on it until it hatched and have taken “exemplary care” of the baby chick ever since it came into the world.
Tim Savage, bird team leader at Whipsnade Zoo, explained flamingos usually “work together” as monogamous pairs to “care for their eggs and subsequent chicks”. Savage added Hudson and Blaze were the “clear choice” for the abandoned egg as they have “always proved to be ideal parents”.
“After the chick hatched in their nest, they sat with it for two weeks, keeping it warm and protecting it from other flamingos, who often squabble and shove around different nest sites,” Savage said.
Two proud dads! ??
Our flamingo chick is lucky to have the best adoptive parents in the colony, Hudson and Blaze! As experienced fathers, they took in an abandoned egg after the biological parents vacated the nest. https://t.co/T6C94TXmh5 #WhipsnadeZoo pic.twitter.com/YCLQcDMJ0o
— ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (@ZSLWhipsnadeZoo) August 8, 2022
Fluffy grey flamingo babies are fed with a bright red “crop milk” which is made in the linings of both male and female parents’ digestive tracts. Savage said observers can spot new flamingo parents because “they give so much of their own pigment to their chicks that they almost turn white”.
Same-sex flamingo pairs are not unusual in flamingos, and Whipsnade Zoo has seen many queer flamingo couples. The zoo said it’s also encountered three birds coupling up in one nest as a trio.
Queer flamingo couple Freddie Mercury and Lance Bass – named after the LGBTQ+ celebs – also acted as adopted parents for abandoned chicks at the Denver Zoo for several years.
Sadly, the Colorado facility announced the beloved couple split in a post celebrating Pride Month. Zookeepers explained the flamingos had an “amicable” break-up and that some birds in “long-term relationships” just decide to “pair up with other birds”.
The Denver Zoo said Freddie has since repaired with a 14-year-old female American flamingo named Iommi while Lanze has yet to form a “new concrete bond with anyone else”.
“Mating for life isn’t necessarily true for all birds, and our keepers have noticed that some birds in long-term relationships sometimes decide to move on and pair up with other birds,” the zoo wrote on Facebook.
It added: “Our flock allows our birds to choose who they decide to form associations with and we’re happy to celebrate their pairings this month and every month. Happy Pride!”
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