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.

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Inside the Prague Zoo in the Czech Republic
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Inside the Prague Zoo in the Czech Republic
A newly born endangered Silvery Gibbon baby hangs on its mother Alangalang at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic, August 14, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny
A western lowland gorilla eats ice cream in its enclosure at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic, August 6, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A zoo keeper grabs a newly born Malayan tiger cub in its enclosure at the Prague Zoo in Prague, Czech Republic November 14, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny
A newly born male Asian elephant calf stands near to its mother Tamara in their enclosure at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/David W Cerny
A one-month-old baby hippo swims with its mother Maruska in their enclosure at the zoo in Prague on February 24, 2016. / AFP / Michal Cizek (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A zookeeper holds a baby of giant anteater in Prague Zoo on March 2, 2016. It was born on January 20 and is Prague Zoo's first anteater born in its breeding history. / AFP / Michal Cizek (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, April 5, 2017 -- Photo taken on April, 4, 2017 shows Przewalski's horses in a field of the Domain of the Caves of Han, Belgium. Two Przewalski's horses left the Domain of the Caves of Han to be transported to Prague Zoo on Tuesday. After inspection and quarantine, one of them will be sent to northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region this September for breeding. (Xinhua/Gong Bing via Getty Images)
A polar bear eats its iced food inside its enclosure at the zoo in Prague during hot summer day on August 23, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MICHAL CIZEK. (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A newly born endangered Silvery Gibbon baby is held by its mother Alangalang at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic, August 14, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A newborn male Asian elephant calf stands near its mother Tamara in their enclosure at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/David W Cerny
A newly-born cheetah cub jumps over its mother Savannah in their enclosure at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic, July 31, 2017. Quintuplets of cheetah cubs were born on May 15, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny
A newly born endangered Silvery Gibbon baby is held by its mother Alangalang at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic, August 14, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny
A guereza monkey (Colobus Guereza) holds a newborn baby at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic April 5, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny
A newly born endangered Silvery Gibbon baby is held by its mother Alangalang at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic, August 14, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny
A zoo keeper carries a newly born Malayan tiger cub in its enclosure at the Prague Zoo in Prague, Czech Republic November 14, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA DECEMBER 20, 2017: A giant anteater named Lecter in an enclosure at the Kaliningrad Zoo. The anteater has come form the Prague Zoo. Vitaly Nevar/TASS (Photo by Vitaly Nevar\TASS via Getty Images)
Cheetah mother Savannah plays with its cub rest in their enclosure at the Zoo on August 3, 2017 in Prague. The animals, two females and three males, were born on May 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Michal Cizek (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - APRIL 27: Shinda, a wester lowland gorilla, holds her five-old-day baby in its enclosure at Prague Zoo on April 27, 2016 in Prague, Czech Republic. According to the Prague Zoo, the birth was unexpected and zoo workers didn't know that 24-year-old Shida was pregnant. Baby was born on 23rd April. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - APRIL 08: A three-old-day male baby Asian elephant stands next to his mother Janita in their enclosure at Prague Zoo on April 8, 2016 in Prague, Czech Republic. According to Prague Zoo, the baby is the first Asian elephant to be both conceived and born in 82 year history of the Prague Zoo. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
Shinda, a western lowland gorilla, yawns as she holds her new born as they rest at the Zoo in Prague,on April 24, 2016. Shinda's baby was born on April 23, 2016. / AFP / Michal Cizek (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian male lion Jamvan reacts in his enclosure on December 20, 2015 at the Prague zoo. Three Indian Lions arrived to the Zoo in Prague from the Indian Sakkarbaug Zoo in Gujarat in October 2015. / AFP / Michal Cizek (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - AUGUST 03: Silvery gibbon Alangalang holds her seven-old-day baby at Prague Zoo on August 3, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. According to Prague Zoo, the baby is the first silvery gibbon to be born in the Czech Republic. Silvery gibbons can only be found in the wild on the island of Java, and have lived in captivity at Prague Zoo since 2014, only the second zoo in continental Europe after Munich in Germany to keep these endangered primates. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
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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)

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