Flamingo Love

Written by: Animal Care Professional,  Micah Carnate


Summer is rolling into the blue skies overhead with the sun’s rays penetrating with its heat.  Along with the needed warmth after this past chilly winter and spring, the afternoon thunderstorms creep in to provide cool showers for all to enjoy, especially our very own flamboyance of Caribbean Flamingos! The introduction of these rainy seasons help to signify the beginning of many journeys of love, starting a family, and creating new life for all the flamingos around the world.

The first chapter in a flamingo’s journey is to find love.  At the start of the breeding season, flamingos prepare to become the best and most attractive dancers in their colony in order to catch an eye of a potential mate.  To do this, flamingos will first go through a quick molting event in which they lose their old feathers and grow in new vibrant pink feathers that drape from their backs.  Once they have their beautiful fancy feathers all in place, the flamingos are ready to show off their passion and romance in a ritual dance consisting of synchronized marching, head-flagging (turning their heads from side to side while stretching out their necks), loud short bursts of honking, and wing-flapping to show off all of their new colorful feathers.  Through this flashy dance, a female flamingo will choose the best male in the colony and both will begin to form their lifelong bond together and embark on their next chapter – starting a family.

An essential step before producing any offspring, the flamingo parents must work together to build a mound.  Contrasting to their bright pink feathers and fancy footwork in their courtship dance, they build their unexciting mounds (or nests) out of plain mud.  Typically, when you see flamingo mounds, they look like little volcanoes standing about 1 to 2 feet high to protect their eggs from any flooding from the rains and any heat from the ground. The mounds will also dip in the middle like a shallow bowl so the egg does not roll out at any point when mom or dad are incubating it.  After their mound is perfect to their standards, the female flamingo is ready to lay an egg!

The female flamingo will only lay one egg per year and both parents will be extremely devoted to the care of their chick for the next two months.  Mom and dad flamingos will each take turns sitting on the egg for 28 to 32 days until their chick emerges.  When the chick hatches, the chick will stay in the mound hiding under mom or dad for another 5 to 12 days and it is during this short time that the parents will be feeding it a milky substance called “crop milk.”  Crop milk is type of milk produced in the flamingo’s upper digestive tract.  It is highly possible that the parents may lose their pink color in their feathers during this time because most of the nutrition is given to the chick in the crop milk; however, once the chick is ready to fledge from the nest, both parents will be able to gain their bright pink colors back. While the family is on the mound, mom and dad become territorial and fend off any other flamingos from invading their space, providing their chick the ultimate protection.

At around the 12th day after hatching, the chick becomes a fledgling and begins to explore the immediate surroundings of their mound.  Mom and dad will still be nearby to keep an eye on their chick as it learns to walk and swim.  All the fledglings in the colony will then merge into a large grouping called a crèche, in which they get socialized into the flamingo community!  At this point, mom and dad will continue to watch over the group and feed their chick when it calls for them. Flamingos are a great example of exhibiting strong family bonds because despite a crèche possibly having hundreds of fledglings, both mom and dad are able to locate their own offspring by their distinctive vocalizations.  Juvenile flamingos will continue to grow up in the same colony with their parents.  At ages 3 to 5 years old, they will become mature and eventually begin their own life journeys.


Fla-mingle with these additional facts:


  • There are a total of six flamingo species around the world: Caribbean (or American), Andean, Chilean, James (or Puna), Lesser, and Greater.
  • Flamingos are social birds and live in colonies called flamboyances. Some flamboyance populations can reach well into the thousands or even tens of thousands!
  • The largest flamingo is the Greater Flamingo standing at 4 to 4.5 ft tall and weighing between 4.5lbs to 9lbs. The smallest flamingo is the Lesser Flamingo standing at 2.5 to 3 ft tall and weighing between 3lbs to 4.5lbs.
  • Flamingos get their pink colors from a pigment called carotenoids found in some of their favorite foods such as small crustaceans and algae.
  • Although no flamingo species are considered endangered, they still have declining numbers due to habitat loss from urban development.


A Family Plus annual Zoo membership makes it easy for your family to visit our flamingo flock in the Florida realm of the Zoo! You can learn more about memberships here.


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Please review our booking tips before continuing

1. Please make one field trip per reservation order. Complete one and start a new one if you have multiple days you are booking.

2. Headcount can be approximate. Please include children and adults in your headcount. Please do not include pass holders in your headcount for a ticket.

3. On the ticket page, choose the correct grade level (to the left of your screen) to receive the correct chaperone ratio.

4. On the ticket page, when on the calendar section, the number of tickets available will appear in the top right corner for each particular day. Tickets available include children and adults. If you have more people than tickets available, please choose another day.

5. Anyone that is ordering lunch, even pass holders and adults that receive free chaperone tickets, do need to pay for a lunch IF they are ordering one. Free chaperone tickets and pass holders are for admission only.

Boxed lunch orders must be received 5 business days prior to your field trip arrival. Groups will be responsible for all boxed lunches that were confirmed at that time.

6. Payment does not need to be paid at the time of registration. Choose the pay upon arrival option if you would like one person to pay for your entire trip on the day of your visit.

7. The prices of adult and children’s tickets are different.

8. You will receive a confirmation number and confirmation letter via email when your trip is confirmed. If you do not, please contact Jamie.Elkington@Zootampa.org right away.

Outside Food & Drinks Policy

ZooTampa at Lowry Park offers a variety of delicious food for guests at several restaurants and concession stands throughout, but we understand that guests may need to bring outside food for special dietary needs. Acceptable and prohibited food items are listed below. For the convenience of our guests, there is a picnic area located outside the park near the main parking lot.

 Acceptable Items
  • Bottled water (max 20oz bottle, sealed) one per guest
  • Small snacks for young children
  • Baby food/baby formula
  • Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep (limit one per child)
  • Pre-purchased empty ZooTampa souvenir cups
  • Any food required for medical purposes and medically-indicated nutritional supplements
 Prohibited Items
  • Prepared or packaged food or meals
  • Alcohol
  • Glass or any open containers or water bottles filled with beverages
  • Hard-sided coolers of any size
  • Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep
  • Suitcases and soft-sided bags with wheels larger than 24” long x 15” wide x 18” high

Prohibited Items

For the safety of our animals, guests and employees, the following items are not permitted to be brought into ZooTampa:

  • Any type of explosive or weapon 
  • Knives or other sharp objects
  • Pepper spray
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Marijuana
  • Illegal drugs
  • Straws
  • Clothing likely to create a danger or disturbance
  • Any hazardous items or materials

The following items are also prohibited to avoid blocking of walkways and/or trip hazards:

  • Segways
  • Hover boards
  • Two-wheeled scooters
  • Self-balancing electric vehicles
  • Shoes with wheels
  • Drones
  • Hard-sided coolers of any size
  • Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep
  • Suitcases and soft-sided bags with wheels larger than 24” long x 15” wide x 18” high

Please leave any unnecessary articles secured within your vehicle to expedite your entry into the park.

We reserve the right to deny entry to anyone not observing Zoo Rules.

Pay For A Day Tickets

With a new Pay For A Day, Rest of Year Free ticket – for a limited time – you get unlimited admission through December 31, 2024 including access to our seasonal event series. Some blockout dates apply — see below for details. Not valid with any other discounts.

When does my Pay For A Day ticket expire?

Pay for a Day Get the Rest of the Year Free tickets purchased in October, November, or December of 2023, are valid from the day of purchase until 12/31/2024. Any Pay For a Day Get the Rest of the Year Free tickets purchased prior to October 1, 2023 expire on 12/31/2023.

What are the blockout dates?

11/24/23 – 11/26/23
12/26/23 – 12/31/23
3/9/24 – 3/17/24
11/24/24 – 11/26/24
12/26/24 – 12/31/24

Blockout dates apply to admission before 4:00 PM on the above dates.

Can I purchase a Pay For A Day ticket on a blockout date?

Yes! You can purchase a Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free ticket for first-time use on a listed blockout date and have full access to the park on that day. Blockout dates apply to repeat visitation.

Can I use my Pay For A Day ticket on blockout dates? If you already have your Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free ticket and wish to visit during a listed blockout date, please stop by the Zoo’s ticketing windows for alternate options:
  1. During blockout periods, Pay For A Day ticket holders have access to significantly discounted single-day tickets.*
  2. For a limited time from the date of purchase, Pay For A Day tickets can be upgraded to a Zoo Membership (with no blockout dates).
I purchased a Pay For A Day ticket online. How do I get my actual ticket?

Bring a copy of your confirmation (or show the confirmation email on your mobile device) to expedite entry into the Zoo. At your convenience during your visit you can stop by the Tours & Guest Services kiosk located just inside the Zoo to print your physical pass. No need to stand in line at the ticket windows. Walk right in!
Still have questions? Email us or call (813) 935-8552 ext. 0.