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Experts From Around World Flock To San Diego For Flamingo Symposium

Scientists and zookeepers from around the world gathered at the Bahia Resort Hotel on Monday as the third International Flamingo Symposium in more than 40 years got underway.

The three-day symposium is bringing together those conducting research and conservation efforts on the six flamingo species in the wild and zoo personnel and managers of captive flamingo collections. The first flamingo symposium was held in 1973 and the second in 1998.

Photo credit: Melodie Mesiano via Compfight

Flamingos at the San Diego Zoo, Feb. 14, 2009.

"Flamingos are charismatic, people recognize them, their in children's books, plastic ornaments in people's front yards. And this is a great opportunity to take all the experts from around the world and bring them to San Diego and share the science and conservation as it relates to flamingos and other ecosystems,” said Michael Mace with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park — home to the largest population of flamingos in North America.

This week's event will feature 35 presentations covering the various aspects of flamingo research, management and conservation, according to event organizers. Monday's agenda includes talks on engaging zoos in species conservation, the threat of soda ash to the birds in Tanzania, and flamingo husbandry techniques.

Other presentations will detail the effects of climate change on the African wetlands; the economic value of flamingos in Mexico's tourism industry; the evolutionary relationships among flamingos; breeding in captivity; and best practices for packing eggs for transport.

Event organizers said the symposium is being held in part to allow those working with wild flamingo habitats around the world and the international zoo community to develop collaborations.

The symposium's organizers include the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York; Germany's Weltvogelpark; the International Union for Conservation of Nature's flamingo Specialist Group and SeaWorld San Diego — which is home to Lesser and Caribbean flamingos.

A closing banquet featuring live entertainment will be held Thursday evening at the Nautilus Pavilion SeaWorld San Diego.

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