FORT WORTH, Texas — The Fort Worth Zoo is seeing pink just in time for Valentine's Day! They are celebrating the hatchings of 17 lesser flamingo chicks (Phoenicopterus minor).
These fuzzy Valentines were born over the last month, the zoo says, and more are on the way.
They are born white or gray, and will eventually get their pink plumage by age 3 or 4, because the pigments or carotenoids found in their diet.
According to the zoo, the lesser flamingos are extremely difficult to breed under human care and reproduces less than any other flamingo species found in zoos across the United States.
The zoo says after making adjustments to the birds' nesting habitat by adding heating lamps, a small pool and mirrors to provide the illusion of more birds, they saw more results. Their flamingo "love shack" has now become the most successful breeding location in the world. They've celebrated the hatching of 382 chicks, so far, since the breeding program was launched in 2002.
"The Zoo’s lesser flamingo breeding efforts are incredibly important to create a long-term, self-sustaining population of these birds in U.S. zoos – lesser flamingos are listed as near threatened by IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, primarily due to habitat alteration," the zoo said in a press release.
Right now, the new chicks are receiving around-the-clock feedings and care from zoo keepers and their parents.
In recent years, the Fort Worth Zoo has been voted the top zoo in North America by USA Today, one of the "World's Greatest" by Bloomberg TV, the Best Zoo by Yahoo Travel, and the No.1 family attraction the DFW metro by Zagat survey.
It's home to 7,000 animals and is currently in phase three of four, in a $130 million renovation plan. The third phase includes a "Predators of Asia and Africa" exhibit which is under construction and set to open this year.