Floyd the flamingo standing in his pen

A Flamingo Leg Up

Flamingo standing in shallow water

A flamingo’s long legs are an important adaptation. They keep most of the bird’s body dry and warm while it wades in water, searching for food. Floyd is a flamingo at the San Diego Zoo that had a problem with his legs, but the Zoo staff was able to help him!

One of Floyd's keepers helps him to stand.

Straightening out

As Floyd grew, keepers noticed that his legs were crooked. Veterinarians did three surgeries to help straighten Floyd’s legs. But after the surgery, Floyd needed to not stand on his legs to let hem heal. Luckily, his keepers had a plan.

One of Floyd the flamingo's keepers holds him up off his feet as his legs heal.

Have a seat, Floyd!

From the time he was just a fuzzy chick, his keepers noticed that Floyd was kind of a “lap flamingo.” He liked to sit in their laps or have them hold him, so that’s what they did while his legs healed! “For 2 weeks, someone was always holding him, 24-hours a day,” says Kristina Nelson, a senior animal trainer at the Zoo. “He was very happy with that!”

Floyd rests in his suspended sling.

Special care

As Floyd’s legs got stronger, the staff made a sling so he could practice standing. In between times, the keepers held him. The keepers even stayed with him at night. “Sometimes we’d watch a movie on a tablet,” Kristina remembers. “Floyd watched ‘Finding Nemo’ and was very interested in it!”

Floyd being held by a keeper's hands

Standing tall

Floyd is now one of the flamingos that guests meet during the Animals in Action program.  “We check his legs daily,” says Kristina. “Sometimes his legs get tired, and he’ll sit down. But if we’re nearby, he still likes us to pick him up and hold him, so we do (even though he’s five feet tall!).