KIMBERLEY, South Africa (CIRCA) — Thousands of abandoned baby lesser flamingos were rescued from Kamfers Dam in northern South Africa in early January.
An ongoing drought in the area dried up the dam, which forced the adult flamingos to abandon their chicks for a chance at self preservation.
The Southern African Foundation for Conservation of Coastal Birds, SANCOBB, rescued 550 of the 5,000 chicks. The rest went to other rescues around South Africa.
"They are feeding off of algae that is growing in the water around them, so they had to move to other areas otherwise they would starve to death. Unfortunately they had to leave eggs and chicks behind," said Jess Phillips, Penguin Coast Area Manager with the Maryland Zoo.
Phillips flew out to Capetown, South Africa, from Baltimore to help in the rehabilitation efforts at SANCCOB.
“We have been very lucky with American Zoos and partners in the U.K. and the U.S. that have actually sent down some of their zookeepers and zoo people over that have experience with handling flamingos," said Dr. Katta Ludynia, research manager at SANCCOB.
SANCCOB plans to release the chicks back into the wild at the end of April.
“Even though these flamingos are not endangered they are threatened, so the more that we can do now hopefully in the years to come when my kids have kids there will still be all these animals around," Phillips said.
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