Abandoned flamingo chick raised by two adoptive dads at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire

A same-sex couple has become the adoptive parents of a baby flamingo who was abandoned as an egg. Credit: ZSL

A baby flamingo has been taken under the wing of two adoptive dads after being abandoned by its biological parents.

The chick was left in a nest while still an egg at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire and was initially put in an incubator to help it survive.

But zookeepers decided its best chance would be to find some adoptive parents - and turned to same-sex pairing Hudson and Blaze to step up for some extra parental duties.

The couple already had a good track record of caring for their shared nest.

Once the egg was given to them, they sat tight on it until it hatched. The chick has not been given a name yet while keepers wait to discover its sex.

Tim Savage, bird team leader at Whipsnade, said the dads had continued to be exemplary parents.

"After the chick hatched in their nest, they sat with it for two weeks, keeping it warm and protecting it from other flamingos, who often squabble and shove around different nest sites," he said.

The flamingo chick does not yet have a name yet because keepers do not know its sex. Credit: ZSL

Same-sex couples are not unusual in flamingos - which are collectively known as a flamboyance. Whipsnade has had others in the past, as well as trios - where a mixture of male and female birds tend the nest.

In Colorado, same-sex couple Lance Bass and Freddie Mercury delighted visitors to Denver Zoo for several years.

But in a post celebrating Pride Month in June, the zoo broke the news that the flamingos, one Chilean and one American, had broken up.

They too had acted as adoptive parents for chicks separated from their biological parents.

Baby flamingos are fed with bright red "crop milk" which can be made by both male and female parents. It is made in their digestive tract and is regulated by the same hormone responsible for milk in mammals.

The act of sitting on an egg and watching it hatch stimulates the hormone meaning parents of either sex can help with the feeding.

"You can often spot the new parents in a group because they give so much of their own pigment to their chicks that they almost turn white," said Mr Savage.

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