Flamingling at the Palm Beach Zoo

If you haven't heard, about a year ago the Palm Beach Zoo introduced a new program called Animal Experiences. These amazing encounters are offered every day at the zoo and you can mix and mingle with some of the cutest animals in the park such as koalas, sloths, tortoises and flamingos! Last week we had the opportunity to participate in the intimate encounter, and fell in love with these majestic tropical birds.

The impressive Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society has carefully put together a 45 minute, intimate encounter with the flamingo keepers, who are on hand to tell you everything you need to know about these Chilean beauties. Upon entering the Flamingo area zoo staff explain how best to get acquainted with the birds first. It's a great time to take some snaps of the flamingos, who are active, fun and genuinely curious about you! They're beautiful pink colors are breathtaking, and it was easy to see that each bird has its own unique personality. During this initial session we learned plenty of fun facts about the flamingos from the keepers who care for them daily, such as how often they need their wings clipped, how long they've been with the zoo, what they eat, how they sleep and so much more!

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After your initial meet and greet, the team invites you to take the flamingos on a walk. You heard us correctly! This is possibly the cutest thing we've ever done - and your chance to become a real part of the flock. Heading out in a single file line, you take a tour of some of the grounds. We were surprised by how fast the birds travel! Their long legs take great strides, which we later found out is because they know they're headed for snack time! To add to the fun, the team explained that the flamingos natural rival, a breathtakingly stunning swan, makes sure to swim over as the flamingos pass, puff out his chest and showcase as many beautiful feathers as he can. Once we got to the midway point on the walk, we stopped to watch the graceful birds graze in cups of water filled with food before heading back to the flamingo pen.

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The final leg of the experience is the most interactive. You're invited to feed the flamingos, the best opportunity to get the perfect shot with your new feathered friend. As flamingos are water birds, you're given small cups of water filled of algae loaded with beta carotene, an organic chemical. Interestingly, we learned that this is where their pink color comes from! The algae contains the reddish-orange pigment from the beta carotene, which is also present in many plants, but especially in tomatoes, spinach, pumpkins, sweet potato and, of course, carrots. Due to the sheer amount they consume (for these guys, 100% of their diet), the coloring comes out in their feathers.

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If you've never been up close and personal with these gorgeous pink birds, this is an opportunity you should not miss. The experience takes place daily at 12:15pm and is suitable for guests 5 years of age or older. Participants 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult 18+. The cost is just $30 for zoo members ($35 for non-members), and there is maximum of 6 people allowed per encounter, which require prior registration and admission. For more information, visit www.palmbeachzoo.org/flamingo-experience.

About the Palm Beach Zoo:

Located in West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society houses more than 550 animals and 190 species (many endangered) in several beautifully-created habitats. Visitors move freely from area to area, moving from Central American ruins to rainforests to woodlands. The zoo creates a natural atmosphere where the animals are at home and visitors get to feel what it is like to see them in their natural environments. An interactive fountain acts as a hub for the zoo and provides fun water play for the kids.