Can You Own A Flamingo As a pet? Is It Legal?

Flamingos are one of the most beautiful birds nature has. These birds are immensely popular and widely appreciated for their beauty worldwide. But is it possible to domesticate a Flamingo? Wondering, Can You Own A Pet Flamingo?

Well, most likely not. Flamingos are wild birds and are not intended to be petted. Obviously, laws are not uniform across the world, but Flamingo’s ownership (as a standalone individual) is restricted in major countries. And even if any country or state allows it, the process of licensing will make it further difficult to own one. Besides that, Flamingos are extremely difficult to care for, and individuals (other than Zoo facilities) can’t make up for their needs.

History of Flamingo: Where Do Flamingos come From?

A Flamingo is a beautiful wading bird with a tall demeanor and a pretty pink shade. It has a graceful neck, long slender legs, a short tail, and large wings. Flamingo belongs to the Phoenicopteridae, which is the one extant of the Phoenicopteriformes family.

Their two subspecies are native to Afro-Eurasia (continents of Africa, Europe, and Asia), whereas four Flamingo species are native to the Americas, including Caribbean Islands.

Origin/ History of Flamingo: According to the Fossil evidence/ record, Flamingos evolved from a group of birds about 30 million years ago. It was way before many other avian orders had evolved. 

Another 1976 fossil study also suggests that flamingos arose from ancient shorebirds. Some fossilized flamingo footprints are also found in the Andes Mountains and are claimed to be seven million years old. 

Can You Own A Flamingo As a pet

Flamingo Species Overview/ Taxonomy Chart

NameFlamingo
Other NamesNone
Scientific NamesPhoenicopterus
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPhoenicopteriformes
FamilyPhoenicopteridae
GeneraPhoeniconaias, Phoenicoparrus, Phoenicopterus
SpeciesPhoeniconaias Minor (Lesser Flamingo)
Phoenicoparrus Andinus (Andean Flamingo)
Phoenicoparrus Jamesi (James’ Flamingo Or Puna Flamingo) Phoenicopterus Chilensis (Chilean Flamingo)
Phoenicopterus Roseus (Greater Flamingo)
Phoenicopterus Ruber (American Flamingo Or Caribbean Flamingo)
Size5 feet (1.5 meters) tall
weighs 4-8 pounds (1.8-3.6 kilograms)
Lifespan20 to 40 years.
Some exceptions make it more than 50 years.

Is It Legal To Keep Flamingo As A Pet?

Keeping Flamingos or other similar wild birds as pets is illegal in most parts of the world. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 protects Flamingos making it nearly impossible for a private person to own them.

Only some specialized zoos and parks have permission to own Flamingos, though that too after a long process of licensing.

According to the Bird Protection Act, no one can capture, transport, buy, sell, trade, or kill Flamingos without the approval of the Department of Interior, U.S. Fish, and Wildlife Service.

Countries like America, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia follow the treaty; therefore, none of them takes it easy regarding Flamingos.

Someone found indulging in any illegal activity regarding Flamingos would have to be held strictly under laws.

Are Flamingos legal in the U.S.?

No, nowhere in the United States can one possess Flamingos by any means.

Only Zoos and Parks that too under government approval can hold possession of these birds.

Even catching Flamingos from the wild can land you in serious legal trouble. 

Do Flamingo makes good pets?

Flamingos are undoubtedly the most beautiful birds, but they would never make good pets. A private person can never afford to domesticate and pet these wild birds. Can you have Flamingo as a pet?

Flamingos’ social, habitat, and dietary needs are incredibly difficult to meet. And providing them with the wrong lifestyle will probably kill the bird or lessen all probabilities of a healthy lifestyle for them.

And even if humans find it fascinating to pet Flamingos, the domestic lifestyle will turn Flamingo’s life into a living hell.

Besides that, there are very rare chances (almost zero) that one gets possession of a Flamingo. Neither can humans catch these birds from the wild nor are there any breeders or bird sellers available. In addition, there are strict laws for protecting Flamingos.

Flamingo Habitat Needs

An artificial Flamingo enclosure means a large fenced-in area with a huge pond in between. Fencing from above is mandatory as the birds can fly away anytime.

Flamingos are sea birds; thus, the pool they are housed inside must contain salt water. Also, maintaining a certain level of water and temperature is compulsory, or the Flamingos will begin migrating.

Flamingo Temperature and Humidity Needs

The ideal temperature for housing Flamingos is between 17.8 °Celsius to 35.2 °Celsius (64.0 °Fahrenheit to 95.4 °Fahrenheit).

Besides that, maintaining humidity between 40% and 60% is recommended. 

Flamingo Dietary Needs

Maintaining the Dietary need of Flamingos is one of the most difficult tasks. In the wild, these giant birds feed on items like algae, crustaceans, brine shrimp, diatoms, and aquatic plants.

However, in captivity (Zoos), Flamingos feed on special food that is by no way available to the general public. 

Another important part of Flamingo’s diet is water. The specific food and water maintain the pink color of the Flamingo’s feather.

The shade basically comes from beta carotene that Flamingos absorb from their food. An imbalanced diet and malnutrition can play with their health and appearance.

Common Health Problems with Flamingo.

The most common health issues Flamingos suffer from include bacterial diseases and septicemia. 

How much does a Flamingo Cost?

Though possessing a Flamingo is extremely difficult, even if you get one, it will come way more expensive.

The starting price for buying a Flamingo will fall anywhere between $2500 to $3500. And since keeping one single bird is not ideal, double up the cost for keeping a pair.

The price may differ (probably increase) depending on your place and the Flamingo species you go for. Additionally, it will also include the cost of licensing, enclosure building, and more.

Where to buy a Flamingo?

Where to find a Flamingo Breeder? Flamingos are so exotic that finding a seller is a task on its own. There are only a handful of Flamingo breeders worldwide, and they do not sell the bird directly to a private person.

These breeders only deal with Zoos and other organizations for Flamingo trading. Therefore, if you are an individual wanting to domesticate Flamingos, you are going to get it the very hard way.

Some Flamingo Facts for Kids

  1. Flamingos can run on water, thanks to their webbed feet. 
  2. Flamingos can fly way better than one would expect
  3. Flamingos are originally born white, though, after the age of 2 to 3 years, they develop a pink shade in different parts of their body.
  4. The pink color in Flamingo is a result of alpha and beta carotenoid pigments in their diet.
  5. The Flamingo is the national bird of the Bahamas. 
  6. Flamingos can stand on one leg for hours while keeping the other folded.
  7. Flamingos are known for keeping one mate throughout their lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you train a flamingo?

Flamingos are noted as one of the most trainable birds. However, only the ones who are hand-raised can learn things, and doing the same with a wild one is kind of impossible.

Do black flamingos exist?

According to studies and research, there is only one Black Flamingo in the world. It was spotted along a salt lake at the Akrotiri environmental center on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus during a bird count. They though are rare, but there is a high probability that earth has more Black flamingos.

Can flamingos swim?

Yes, Flamingos can swim quite readily. Since they spend most of their time in the water, swimming comes naturally to them. Not just that, but Flamingos can even run in water without trying to contact air/ land.

Wrapping up…

Can I keep a Flamingo as a pet? It might come out as a disappointment to many, but a private person cannot keep Flamingos as pets.

And instead of being cruel and domesticating them, it is better to leave the bird in the wild. If you are really fascinated with Flamingos, visit them in your nearest zoo or park. 

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