In May, the Greensboro Science Center’s veterinary technician, Sam Beasley, spent two weeks in Kimberley, South Africa, assisting with a flamingo crisis. Trip funding was provided by the GSC’s Conservation & Research Grant Program.
In January, the Kamfers Dam began drying up. As adult flamingos followed the dwindling water source, they left hundreds of eggs and hatchlings exposed to the elements. Through funding made available by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, locals in Kimberley built a large pen, complete with a makeshift dam, at the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals where the abandoned hatchlings could be rehabilitated, then released.
Beasley, who was originally scheduled to use her grant money to assist with a sea turtle project, changed her plans to respond to this more urgent crisis.
Beasley says her day began at 7:45 a.m.. She and others were responsible for feeding more than 600 birds four times each day and misting them three times per day. In addition, they maintained water quality by conducting regular water changes on the dam and smaller pools, performed grounds maintenance both inside and outside the pen and administered any daily medications.
The birds were primarily fed a flamingo red feed, in addition to duck pellets, dog food and additional supplements. Unfortunately, the flamingo red feed’s consistency had begun building residue on the bird’s beaks and feathers, at which time volunteers were instructed to begin cleaning all birds individually. With one hose and no hot water on site, it took almost an hour to bathe just one bird.
Beasley assisted in the release of 110 of those birds during her last two days in South Africa.
Beasley’s experience is expected to be useful when the GSC exhibits these birds in its Revolution Ridge zoo expansion (expected to be complete in 2020).