Since June, a team of animal care staff at Jurong Bird Park’s Breeding and Research Centre has been rearing an adorable ball of grey fluff, even pampering it with a pair of cute blue shoes.

Squish standing on its own at Day 5

Squish standing on its own at Day 5

This ball of fluff, a Greater Flamingo, has been named Squish, for its ‘squish-ability’. When keepers at the park found it as an abandoned egg, it was swiftly brought to the incubation room at the Breeding and Research Centre, where it was kept snug and warm for about a month at approximately 37 degrees Celsius. It hatched on 7th June, 2017.

One of Squish’s carers gingerly putting special handmade booties on Squish before its daily walk.

One of Squish’s carers gingerly putting special handmade booties on Squish before its daily walk.

Weighing in merely at 90.5g on Day One, keepers have been taking turns to keep a close eye on the chick, feeding it a special formula consisting of eggs and multi-vitamins, up to five times a day. The formula, high in protein, is similar to a parent flamingo’s crop milk. Today, Squish weighs a healthy 1.2kg.

Keepers at Jurong Bird Park started walking Squish when he was ten days old.

Keepers at Jurong Bird Park started walking Squish when he was ten days old.

To develop strength in its legs, Squish goes on short walks around the Breeding and Research Centre daily. To protect its delicate foot pads from hard ground surfaces, his carers fashioned a pair of soft blue booties for Squish to plod around in, while having some fun in the sun. In their natural habitats where ground surfaces are softer, flamingo chicks start walking when they are about a week old.

Jurong Bird Park’s avian veterinarian, Dr Neo Peici (left) checking on Squish, assisted by veterinary nurse Marcus Tan.

Jurong Bird Park’s avian veterinarian, Dr Neo Peici (left) checking on Squish, assisted by veterinary nurse Marcus Tan.

Squish spends most of its time in the Centre’s weaning room, getting used to the outdoor temperature and learning to feed on its own. When Squish reaches three months, it will be introduced to the flock at Flamingo Lake.

Baby flamingos are whitish-grey, and gradually acquire their characteristic pink plumage after around two years from their diet of shrimps, other small crustaceans and algae. Greater Flamingos are also the largest of their species. There are currently over 300 Greater Flamingos at Jurong Bird Park’s Flamingo Lake and every year the park breeds several chicks.

Jurong Bird Park also undertakes an annual health check and flu vaccination for waterfowl, such as flamingos, to ensure that the birds are healthy and facilitate early detection of illnesses and treatment.

Image credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

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