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Tuesday, January 19

Next week we are shipping four of our 2014-hatch flamingos to the zoo in West Palm Beach. Easy to write, harder to do. Two issues get in the way of this being easy. The first issue is that it feels like we are sending out our kids. Yup. Sentiment gets in the way of making this easy! It’s like sending them off to college. How can I live without my little girl #24? Sweetest little flamingo girl on this planet, the most huggable flamingo I ever met! Okay, so flamingos are badly shaped to really hug, and their shape is really the second issue that we face when shipping birds to other zoos.

Think about it. A Chilean flamingo is nearly four feet tall but only eight inches wide and 20 inches long. They don’t make shipping crates for birds like that. Any tall crate is also very wide.

Tall crates are often a challenge. Only a very large jet can carry the tallest pet shipping crates because the loading doors on the planes are of limited height. A 48-inch-high crate just doesn’t fit through the normal 36-inch-high loading door! In this case, we would have to send the birds to the Miami airport, which is the closest airport that can handle a crate of this height.
So we will be driving our flamingos to West Palm Beach in a ZooMobile. And we are going to use the best shipping crate imaginable for four flamingos: a giant cardboard box subdivided vertically into four compartments! The sort of box that held your new washing machine. Super cheap, recyclable, and the sides are not hard. The floors are covered in pine shavings to absorb their messes and give them traction. The top is covered with soft mesh so the birds can’t come out, yet have lots of ventilation. And the keepers driving there will have 10 hours sharing the vehicle with four tame but honking flamingos and their associated lovely flamingo fragrance.  What could possibly be better!
James Ballance
Curator of Birds and Program Animals

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl