Nashville, Tenn. – (WKRN) – When you think of flamingos, a tropical island or a Jimmy Buffet song might come to mind. But zookeepers say flamingos have no problem with winter and can brave the cold weather.
“They’re actually very hardy animals,” explained Hope Thelen, Nashville Zoo Bird Keeper. “They can withstand pretty cold temperatures and can withstand salt water three times as salty as the ocean. So, they can live in places that a lot of animals and people cannot survive. They will be out all season, as long as the temperature is above 25 and there’s no ice in their exhibit. We don’t need any flamingos sliding around!”
These flamingos have got it made at the Nashville Zoo and even have their own heaters to brave the cold weather during winter.
“They do go inside at night,” Thelen pointed out. “They have an inside holding with nice heaters, and fans in the summer. They have their own smaller pool in there that we actually put lettuce and krill in. And then they have their food bowls. They have the option to go to an outdoor sandy yard, and then an outdoor mud yard, as well. That’s where they like to build their mud mounds for the breeding season.”
Flamingos get their pink color from their diet. They eat krill, a small shrimp-like crustacean in the ocean. Visitors at the flamingo exhibit will notice two different shades of pink.
“We have two different species of flamingos in this exhibit, which a lot of people don’t actually realize, Thelen said. “So, the Caribbean Flamingos are the very vibrant pink flamingos, and the paler ones are our young Greater Flamingos. So, they are only two years old.”
Flamingos can live a lot longer than you might think. The deeper pink Caribbean flamingos at the exhibit range from fourteen to twenty-five years old.
Thelen says the flamingos are some of the most popular animals at the zoo and are always ready to put on a show.
“The flamingos are definitely one of the fan favorites here at the zoo,” said Thelen, “Everyone that I talk to says that they come to the zoo just to see the flamingos. Their bright colors draw people in, and they’re very entertaining for people to watch. They’re so chatty. Sometimes they bicker with one another. They’re almost always doing something.”
If you are visiting the zoo, you might also see the wandering “Ambassador Chilean Flamingos” who walk around the zoo daily to greet visitors.
So, the flamingos here are always putting on a show at the Nashville Zoo!