Learning to walk: abandoned flamingos get helping hand in Prague zoo


PRAGUE, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Every day a keeper at Prague Zoo leads half a dozen squawking baby flamingos on a walk through the grounds.

Abandoned by their parents, these young wading birds still have the grey and fluffy feathers of fledglings, although some are starting to show streaks of bright pink.

All still need help with some of the basics of growing up, including how to use their long legs.

"We raise the young pink flamingoes ourselves because their parents don't take care of them for reasons unknown to us," said Lenka Pastorcakova, a spokeswoman for Prague Zoo.

Prague Zoo has kept flamingos for 50 years but recently keepers began to notice that some parents were not looking after their newborn chicks.

Used to living in flocks, fledglings who are abandoned run the risk of not learning how to socialize and or to walk properly. The zoo is making sure to take the birds out in groups and let them test out different surfaces, including tarmac and grass.

The lessons seem to have paid off: While some of the birds are still cautious and tread gingerly along behind the zookeeper, others dash ahead confidently before wheeling back to rejoin the group.

(Reporting by Jiri Skacel Writing by Robert Muller Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)