Durban - The remaining 34 flamingos that were under the care of uShaka Sea World were flown to the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria on Tuesday morning.
UShaka Sea World is a temporary home for 250 Lesser flamingo chicks that were rescued by the Kimberly SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and others from the Kamfers Dam near Kimberley.
The flamingos could not return to Kimberley when the first group of 78 flamingos left over a month ago because they had not met their medical milestones, said Ann Kunz of uShaka Sea World.
“Not all flamingos are the same and some take a lot longer than others to gain weight, grow feathers and muscles, sport the correct shade of pink, and jump high enough to impress and assure the veterinarian staff that they will be able to thrive once released,” Kunz said.
She said the flamingos had made significant progress over the last four weeks and assert their independence, then it was decided not to fly them directly to kamfers Dam. Instead they would go to the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria where they would remain until they were declared fit enough for release.
Tracy Shaw, Project Co-ordinator, said: “It was a very emotional moment when I loaded the last flamingos onto the plane and knew that I was heading back to uShaka Sea World only to be greeted by an empty structure. It has been an honour and a privilege to have been a part of the rehabilitation of these young flamingos over the past three and a half months and I am going to miss them an awful lot.”
Brigid Toughey, uShaka Sea World volunteer, said: “I have cared for and watched over these flamingos since they were 2 days old and feel so much pride and thankfulness to have been able to play a part in uShaka Sea World Flamingo Project where 112 flamingos have been given a second chance at life.”
Kunz said at their final weigh-ins on Monday, the heaviest flamingo weighed 1.7kg whilst the smallest one weighed only 600g. However, being the heaviest flamingo does not equate to owning the most space or being first in line as it is the smaller flamingos who seem to have the loudest voices and most tenacity.