Inside the Heroic Mission to Save Thousands of Baby Flamingos

Flamingo eggs were strewn across the ground, abandoned by their parents. Without aid, they'd all die.

RELATED TAGS: ANIMALS, ECOLOGY
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The incessant “eep, eep, eep” of hundreds of hungry flamingo chicks bounces off the concrete walls of a feeding room at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) wildlife sanctuary in Cape Town, South Africa. Teri Grendzinski reaches into a pen and plucks out a fluffy, pale gray chick. The bird opens its mouth eagerly as her syringe squirts out a kind of warm shrimp milkshake.

It’s noisy, hot work. To keep the orphans warm, their rooms are heated to a balmy 86 degrees Fahrenheit. And there are so many birds, volunteers have to feed them around the clock in shifts, mixing endless shakes and bringing in a new group of chicks as soon as one is finished. 

Scenes like this were common during the flamingo rescue effort that took place earlier this year. “[It was] overwhelming — in a good way,” says Grendzinski, who has raised wild birds at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh for 25 years. “There was so much work to be done. So much to be learned. … And we were running — sitting down was not an option.”

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