Monday, May 21, 2007

Gay Flamingos Play ‘Mom’ and Dad at Slimbridge As Chick Is Hatched

SLIMBRIDGE, May 21, 2007 – Carlos and Fernanado, the famous gay flamingos at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire are in luck.

Usually they have to steal an egg to become parents. So they could hardly believe their luck last week when staff at the Trust’s centre literally handed them an egg!

Desperate to have chicks of their own, unlikely couple Carlos and Fernando’s egg stealing antics first hit the headlines last year.

And their chick-rearing skills impressed staff at WWT Slimbridge so much that when one of the nests in the Greater Flamingo colony was abandoned last week, they hatched a plan to save the life of the baby flamingo and make Carlos and Fernando parents again.

Staff, however, had to devise a bit of subterfuge.

The abandoned egg was whisked off to an incubator where it was warmed-up and monitored. Hours later a chick hatched safe and well, but there was a problem.

Parents usually ‘first bond’ with their chicks as they’re hatching – and calling from inside the egg.

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 gay foster parents.

Now the chick has joined the ‘crèche’ of some 15 Greater Flamingo chicks at Slimbridge and has been accepted into the flock under the watchful gaze of dad and dad, Carlos and Fernando.

Gay flamingos are not unusual, a spokesperson at Slimbridge said. And they enjoy a somewhat prominent status with their choice of partner.

This story comes just as news broke that a major colony of wild Greater Flamingos on Fangassier Island in the Camargue of southern France have failed to hatch eggs this year.

Up to 20,000 flamingos usually breed on Fangassier Island each year, so no chicks from this famous colony will further highlight the importance of protecting a dwindling number of breeding sites in the wild.

Despite there being almost five million flamingos in the world today, the total number of regular breeding sites is fewer than 30.

WWT believes there is a real need for the production of conservation action plans for the six different species of flamingos so all the important breeding and feeding sites of the world can be identified and protected.

WWT maintains breeding populations at its centres and supplies reputable zoological collections with flamingos to reduce the demand for wild-caught birds, whilst continuing its work in the conservation of flamingos in the wild.

■ The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, opened in 1946 by Sir Peter Scott, is open to the public. Its award-winning visitor centre overlooks 325 hectares of nationally and internationally protected wetlands including a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Ramsar Site and Special Protection Area (SPA).

Slimbridge is situated just off the A38 between Bristol and Gloucester. Nearest motorway junctions are 13 or 14 on the M5 - just follow the 'brown duck' signs. The visitor centre is open seven days a week from 9.30am to 5pm (5.30pm in summer). Full details on the “Slimbridge” web of the WWT website.

■ A few years ago, Silo and Roy, a pair of gay chinstrap penguins hatched an egg in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The offspring, a female, was called Tango. Silo and Roy subsequently split up, Silo taking a shine for Scrappy, a female from California (San Diego Sea World) to become the first recorded “ex-gay” penguin. Tango, of course, had the obligatory book, And Tango Makes Three, which was a controversial best seller in the USA. Last heard of Tango was making eyes at Tazuni, a female penguin.

Justice Mh's Thoughts: I think this is just nice in the nature animal knigdom with gay parents raising young ones. It's also in the human race as well! Keep it up!

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