Developing flamingo husbandry practices through workshop communication
Zoos are duty-bound to provide excellent welfare standards for the species that they keep. Curators and keepers have a role to play in ensuring that husbandry regimes are relevant and mimic a species’ natural environment. This paper explains the key outcomes from ABWAK’s (Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers) first national flamingo keepers’ workshop. Research on flamingo breeding is well documented in the literature, but research into other aspects of husbandry may develop flamingo welfare further. By engaging keepers and academics with a direct influence over flamingo management, questions relating to best practice can be answered to establish areas of common good practice as well as novel approaches. Topics presented for discussion at the workshop focused on 1) informed enclosure design, 2) relevant enrichment ideas and 3) "promotion" of flamingos to the zoo visitor, with the aim of having a positive impact on the birds’ quality of life and their value as a zoo exhibit. Outcomes generated included the development of enrichment and husbandry modifications that may enhance flamingo activity patterns and their display to zoo visitors. Many aspects of regular flamingo husbandry can have an enriching influence on the birds’ lives, therefore encouraging zoo professionals to share ideas may benefit many flamingos in many zoos. Through the medium of a workshop, husbandry techniques for specialist species such as the flamingo can be shared and developed.
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