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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Flamingo pair adopt jilted chick
The chick
The chick was replaced in an old egg to aid the bonding process
A pair of male flamingos have become foster parents after adopting an abandoned chick in Gloucestershire.

Carlos and Fernando had tried to start their own family by stealing eggs from other flamingos at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Slimbridge.

But their sitting and hatching skills impressed staff so much, that when a nest was abandoned last week, they were chosen to "adopt" the chick.

The new flamingo family is said to be doing well.

Bonding process

The egg had been whisked off to an incubator where it was warmed up and monitored.

Hours later the healthy chick hatched, but staff were concerned the duo would not bond with the newborn because the process normally begins when the chicks are "calling" them from inside the egg.

So the chick was carefully placed in an old eggshell, which was taped up and returned to the unsuspecting couple's empty nest.

WWT spokeswoman Jane Waghorn said: "Fernando and Carlos are a same sex couple who have been known to steal other flamingos' eggs by chasing them off their nest because they wanted to rear them themselves.

"They were rather good at sitting on eggs and hatching them, so last week when a nest was abandoned, it seemed like a good idea to make them surrogate parents."

Milk production

The pair, who have been together for about six years, can feed their chick without any female help - by producing milk in their throat.

Ms Waghorn added that flamingo same sex couples were not particularly rare.

"If there aren't enough females or they don't hit it off with them, they will pair off with other males," she said.

The pair are Greater Flamingos, the most widely dispersed of the six flamingo species, being found in Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America.

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