Aug 18, 2017

You probably first saw a flamingo through the trippy Alice in Wonderland, where the sophisticated bird is used as a mallet in the croquet game with the Queen of Hearts. Or maybe you’ve seen a plastic one, floating in a pool during a hot summer day. The flamingo is admired for its statuesque look: long S-shaped neck, long legs, and pink feathers. However, this bird is not born with that look.

Squish at five days old. Photo courtesy of Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Apparently, baby flamingos don gray feathers. When they turn two years old, flamingos start to change color. This is due to their diet comprised of shrimps, crustaceans, and algae, which are rich in a pink dye called canthaxanthin. In captivity, some flamingos may lose their color when they stop eating canthaxanthin-rich food.

Squish with his blue boots. Photo courtesy of Wildlife Reserves Singapore

In Jurong Bird Park’s Breeding and Research Center, a baby flamingo named Squish is pampered by his caretakers after it was abandoned as an egg. Squish wears a pair blue boots when he roams around the reserve to exercise his legs. Since flamingos’ natural habitat has softer ground, the blue boots protect his feet from the harder and harsher surface around the center.

Squish is a Greater Flamingo, the largest of their species.

It may take a while before Squish gets his pink plumage, but he also looks cute in his gray suit.

Header photo courtesy of Unsplash

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