Animal updates: Visibility of giraffes, zebras, and ostriches may be limited as our new bontebok acclimates.

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Tuesday, November 15

It’s that time of year again! Time for our annual Flamingo Roundup. Every year after breeding season, all the birds are due for their annual checkups. I will spend a majority of this week preparing for it. Behind the scenes, in the habitat’s corral, I set up large metal barriers to make four runs so we can divide the flock into smaller, more manageable, groups. To make it more comfortable for the birds while they’re waiting for their turn, we line the barriers with bubble wrap.

Now that the corral is ready to go, I need to get the paperwork in order. There are 58 birds in the flock, and each one has his or her own medical record. I make a spreadsheet of all the birds in the flock listing their ID number, any previous issues they’ve had, any new issues we’ve seen, and the last few weights taken so we have something to compare their current weights to.  This year, we have four new chicks in the flock, so I also have to figure out how to band them. Each bird in the flock has a different numbered yellow band on its leg so we are able to tell them apart. I have to make sure I don’t band the new chicks with numbers we already have on a current bird in the flock!   Now we should be ready to go!

It takes a lot of people to make the roundup run smoothly. We usually have at least five to six keepers, two vets, and three to four vet techs involved in the process. The bird keepers will walk the flock out of the habitat and into the corral, where they are divided into the runs. Next an assembly line is formed. Each bird is identified by its band, and the transponder is checked. Next they move on to the vet station where they have their annual exam and receive their vaccinations. In the last station, the bird is weighed. Usually the bird is in hand no longer than 10 minutes, and afterwards they are released back into the habitat. The entire process takes three to four hours and then they are all set for the next year!
Monica Halpin
Keeper III, Birds

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