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Nineteen years of management for Phoenicopteriformes in European Association of Zoos and Aquaria institutions: the Fabulous Flamingo Surveys and strategies to increase reproduction in captivity

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Abstract

Flamingos are estimated to be present in at least two-thirds of European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) institutions. In total, 8837 flamingos in 168 institutions, including 164 EAZA zoos and four Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust centres were reported as at 1 January 2010. Around 93% (8214) of the flamingos reported were the three Phoenicopterus spp: Greater flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus, Caribbean flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber and Chilean flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis. These three species are included in the EAZA Ciconiiformes and Phoenicopteriformes Regional Collection Plan (RCP), along with the Lesser flamingo Phoeniconaias minor. All four species are managed in the lowest RCP category, ‘Monitor by TAG’, as efforts currently focus on broad-scale issues at the zoo/group level. Answers to a survey demonstrated that EAZA zoos would like to hold many more flamingos than are currently available. The Taxon Advisory Group has adopted 11 strategies to improve the conditions and breeding of flamingos in captivity. For example, to improve breeding results zoos are encouraged to have only a single flamingo species in an enclosure, to balance sex ratios in groups and to keep full-flighted flamingos. Health problems as well as predator and trauma mortality are also discussed in this paper. The Fabulous Flamingo Survey is being repeated at 5 year intervals in order to monitor progress and adjust strategies.

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