By Jaime Wilson, Quiet Observer
Once a year the Zoo gets ready to gather up all 40 Flamingos and do routine checks. We affectionately call it the Flamingo Round Up. Over the years, participants have even received commemorative cups for contributing. But since it is such a delicate operation, not everyone is invited. This year, there were a couple of press folks from KFBK & KXJZ, myself and our PR person who were allowed to be around - kind of far away, and very, very quite.
Since the lake is an open exhibit, it presents some challenges to rounding up the Flamingos. Our staff have become very good at orchestrating the whole operation. First, a corral is build up on land with an open side for the Flamingos to get in. Then about 2 dozen staff take up posts around the lake to make human barriers. Of course, the birds go into the water but that's where a kayaker comes in. She slowly urges them towards the land with the corral. Once they are up on land, a wall of keepers with tall shade cloth start to surround the birds and get them into the corral. The actual round up takes about a half an hour of very quite, slow moving dedication.
Once the Flamingos are corralled, the dozen vet staff and vet students set up stations to do weight checks, identification, blood tests, physical exams and inoculate against West Nile Virus. They do a kind of assembly line, with one keeper carrying one bird throughout the process and then releasing them back into the lake when they are done. The exams take about 10 minutes to complete.
If you want to see the fabulous staff in action, check out the video below!