New Flamingos, Part 1: Transportation

By Zoo Keepers Amanda & Christine

Have you ever wondered how zoo animals were transported? The Sacramento Zoo recently sent two bird keepers to pick up ten flamingos and two geese from the San Diego Zoo and Sea World San Diego. The entire process takes a lot of coordination from both facilities and careful planning along the way.

Read along to hear of the keepers adventures as they prepared the transportation vehicle, picked up the flamingos, and introduced them to their new home.

Part 1: Transportation!
We rented a large Ryder metro van to transport the birds. The van had to be large enough to make sure the flamingos could comfortably stand and move around slightly during the drive back to Sacramento. As you probably know, the inside of these types of vans are not exactly flamingo friendly! There are holes in the walls, wheel wells to trip over and no padding.

The solution was to make holding pens framed with 2 x 4’s that would corral the birds away from cover all the unsafe portions of the van. Thank goodness for our Maintenance crew! We added bubble wrap around each piece of wood and stretched shade cloth between the studs to complete the “safe” walls. In combination, this makes for a nice cushion in case a bird fell against the sides during the drive.

An extra holding pen was also created in case a flamingo needed to be separated from the others. Finally, the floor of the van was covered with horse mats and hay to cushion their feet and add traction so the birds wouldn’t slip and fall during transport.

Most other birds and animals are easy to transport because you can place them in a crate or kennel. But flamingos are more commonly transported free standing. Finding a crate large enough to fit a standing flamingo is difficult. And making them sit or lay down for a long period of time increases their chance of stress and injury as they are a naturally standing and not a sitting bird.

Flamingos are very fragile and a lot of time, planning, and coordination was put into their pick up vehicle. We haven’t even gotten the birds yet!

Stay tuned for our next installment: Part 2, Picking up the Birds!

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