Gay flamingoes adopt a chick
Carlos and Fernando, a same-sex flamingo couple famed for appropriating other birds' nests in a desire to become parents, have been rewarded for their tenacity with a chick of their own.
Keepers at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge, near Bristol, thought of Carlos and Fernando when another flamingo abandoned its nest with an egg still in it.
When the egg hatched in an incubator before the pair could take over, the keepers carefully taped the new chick into a discarded eggshell before delivering it chez Carlos and Fernando.
"Parents usually first bond with their chicks as they're hatching and calling from inside the egg," trust officials wrote on their Web site.
"So to help Carlos and Fernando bond with their new chick, WWT staff took an old eggshell, carefully popped the newborn chick inside, taped it up and returned it to Carlos and Fernando's empty nest. The pair were soon seen "talking" to the chick inside the egg and a little while later the chick hatched for a second time -- but this time to be greeted by its loving foster parents."
The new family lives at the trust's headquarters in Slimbridge, in an estuary of the River Severn that happens to be the world's only home to all six flamingo species. The site provides birds to zoos in lieu of captives from wild populations, which are severely stressed by urbanisation and climate change.
Experts there say gay flamingos are not uncommon. "If there aren't enough females or they don't hit it off with them, they will pair off with other males," WWT spokeswoman Jane Waghorn told Agence France-Presse. (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)