Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Music used to help flamingos breed

An East Sussex zoo is hoping romantic music puts its Chilean Flamingos in the mood for love

Zoo keepers have been using the Walrus of Love to encourage breeding among its Chilean flamingos.

Staff at Drusillas Park, in Alfriston, near Lewes, East Sussex, have been playing soothing love songs to the group.

These include classics by the Walrus of Love himself, Barry White, and Marvin Gaye, as well as Manfred Mann's Pretty Flamingo and Bette Midler's Wind Beneath My Wings, to try to conjure up some romance.

The mega mix is being played alongside pre-recorded mating vocalisations of Chilean flamingos, a spokeswoman for the zoo said.

Chilean flamingos are native to western South America and are classified as a threatened species.

The spokeswoman said populations have declined in the wild, mainly due to water pollution, interference in their wetland habitats, as well as human activity near breeding sites which can lead the birds to abandon their nests.

The flamingos arrived at Drusillas Park in 1982 and despite many breeding successes throughout the years, there has not been a successful hatching since 2009.

This year the zoo keepers hope to break the cycle by giving the group a gentle nudge in the right direction in an effort to encourage their natural courtship behaviour.

Head Keeper Mark Kenward said: "We had been playing the bird calls in the enclosure when someone suggested that we play some love classics to try to see if they made any difference.

"Since playing the compilation and vocalisations, we have seen some subtle changes in the birds. They appear to be spending more time at the nest sites and taking a greater interest in each other. We are not entirely sure which sounds are having the desired effect but we are just trying to do everything we can to set the mood."

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