South West Wales

Flamingo chick hatches at Llanelli wetlands centre

Staff at a nature reserve in west Wales are delighted at the hatching of a lesser flamingo chick.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Llanelli says the chick is being cared for by a surrogate mother - a Caribbean flamingo.

Centre manager Nigel Williams said the surrogate will give the chick a better chance of survival than its own mother.

He said it was the second time in the 65 years of WWT a lesser flamingo chick has hatched in captivity.

"It's a surrogate mum that's looking after it at the moment, just to see it into its first days of life.

"The lesser flamingos are the pandas of the bird world - notoriously difficult to breed in captivity," he added.

"We just felt it was better to put the egg under a Caribbean flamingo and let that bird rear it."

Image caption Hope was the first lesser flamingo chick to hatch in the UK in 2006

Rare breed

Few glimpses of the chick have been possible since it was born early on Wednesday as staff at the reserve said the surrogate mother is being very protective.

The first lesser flamingo chick to be hatched in captivity in the UK arrived at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, in July 2006.

The chick, named Hope, was brought up collectively by the centre's resident flock of lesser flamingos and has survived to adulthood.

Lesser flamingos are notorious for breeding infrequently, whether in the wild or in captivity.

Concern has been raised over planned industrial development at their main breeding site, Lake Natron in Tanzania, east Africa.

Experts hope that hatching chicks in captivity will help develop skills and techniques that can be used to help support wild populations, such as the building of artificial nest mounds.

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