NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - The Audubon Zoo welcomed a new member to their flock on Wednesday evening.
For the first time in nearly five years, a baby flamingo broke out of its shell as a crowd of visitors looked on.
"The chick hatched out while a large gathering of guests watched,'' said Audubon's curator of birds, Carolyn Atherton. "It was exciting that some of our guests got to see this," Atherton continued.
Atherton said the new chick may soon even have some chicks its own age to socialize with.
"We have three more fertile eggs that we are hoping will hatch out soon,'' she said.
According to the zoo, there are several pairs of flamingos currently sitting on dummy eggs: fake eggs filled with plaster which are placed in the habitat while the real eggs are protected and artificially incubated by zoo staff.
"We incubate the actual eggs artificially.'' Atherton said. "When they are about to hatch, we swap it back out on the parent's nest, leaving the live egg that is about to hatch.''
The Audubon Zoo currently has 99 American, or Caribbean flamingos, 37 in the "uptown" flock located near the zoo entrance, and 62 in the "downtown" flock in the lagoon near the Cool Zoo waterpark.
The American flamingo is the only member of the flamingo species found naturally in North America. The long-legged foul's distinct pink or reddish-orange coat is a result of the high levels of beta carotene in their diet. Chicks are born whitish-grey and build up pigment over the first year or two of their lives.