A CARIBBEAN Flamingo chick is being hand-reared by keepers at Paradise Park in Hayle for the first time.

Director Alison Hales said: “We love our flamingo group, and were delighted when two eggs were laid this summer. However one egg was infertile and then the second pair stopped incubating about a week too early.

"Keepers decided to put the egg in an incubator not knowing if it would hatch, but within days the egg started chirping! The chick hatched successfully on August 19 – it’s early days but so far it’s growing well on two-hourly feeds of a special ‘fish soup’ prepared by Keeper Becky.”

The chick, which is not currently on display to visitors, is syringe-fed a blended mixture of krill, fish fillet, hard-boiled egg yolk, baby porridge, vitamin powder, calcivet and water.

Keeper Becky Waite said: “We are so excited to have a Caribbean flamingo chick. Our flock was very small until last summer when five arrived from Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

"With a bigger flock size we were in a stronger position to achieve breeding success. One pair did lay an egg earlier in the summer which sadly was not fertile. But this did trigger the flock to build nests. The shallow pond area is an ideal location as the mud is the perfect building material.”

Becky added: “Both parents were hatched at Chester Zoo in July 2002, so are 17 years old. They came to Paradise Park in 2004. This egg was laid on July 20 and hatched on August 19, so took 31 days to incubate. Due to the parents having stopped incubating the egg a few days before it was due to hatch, we stepped in and put the egg in an incubator. For the first few days I am feeding the chick every two hours between 6am and 10pm.”

Flamingos form strong pair bonds, and just one egg is laid with both male and female feeding the chick on a special ‘crop milk’. They are long lived birds that can reach the age of 40, and able to breed from age six.