Most people associate flamingos with palm trees, umbrella drinks and suburban lawns. And around this time each year, many visitors might think it’s time for Lincoln Park Zoo’s flamingos to head inside for the winter.
But our birds are Chilean flamingos, native to Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay, where they spend some time at warm, sea-level lowlands, but also occupy high plains atop the Andes Mountains, 15,000 feet above sea level.
And it gets cold up there. High in the Altiplano, as its known, winter nights can drop to -20F. Flamingos gather around hot springs where the water never freezes. Here at Lincoln Park Zoo we don’t have hot springs, but we do employ underwater bubblers that keep our ponds from freezing. As long as the water stays liquid and the temperature is above 20F you can usually see our flamingos outside, enjoying the cool “mountain” air of winter.
Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds Colleen Lynch