A baby Greater Flamingo named Squish generated a collective sigh of adoration around the world when he debuted the blue booties he wears when out walking. Squish was born two-and-a-half months ago from an abandoned egg keepers found, which they incubated at around 37 degrees Celsius at the Jurong Bird Park’s Breeding and Research Centre in Singapore.
A month later, the baby chick hatched weighing 90.5g and was named Squish by his carers for his ‘squish-ability.’ Keepers took turns to keep a constant eye on him, feeding him a special formula of eggs and multivitamins up to five times a day. The formula is similar to a parent flamingo’s crop milk, which is high in protein. Today, Squish weighs a healthy 1.2kg.
To develop strength in his long legs, Squish goes on short daily walks around the Breeding and Research Centre. The park says the handmade booties are worn to protect the baby bird’s delicate feet from the hard ground surfaces outside the centre. In their natural habitats where ground surfaces are softer, flamingo chicks start walking when they are about a week old.
Squish is currently spending time in the centre’s weaning room, getting used to the outdoor temperature and learning to feed on his own. When he reaches three months, he will be integrated into the flamingo flock at the bird park, which is managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Greater Flamingos are the tallest in the flamingo family and can grow to a height of almost 1.5 metres. Squish gets tired tottering around on his long legs during his walks and often has to take a little rest. While he is grey and white now, in two years time Squish will take on the distinctive pink hue of the flamingo from his diet of shrimps, other small crustaceans and algae.
There are currently over 300 Greater Flamingos at Jurong Bird Park’s Flamingo Lake and every year the park breeds several chicks.