Can Flamingos Be Pets?

Photo by KuznetsovAlexey/

Plenty of people have welcomed dogs or cats into their homes as members of the family, and plenty of other creatures of the animal kingdom - fish, hamsters, and turtles, to name a few - aren’t unusual pets. Flamingos are wonderful animals, but can they be wonderful pets, too?

Can Flamingos Be Pets?

Photo by MaplesImages/

First, The Legality

Before we get any deeper into the concept of flamingos as pets, let’s delve into the legality of such an arrangement. Obviously, laws are not uniform across the world, and we do not have the time or patience to collect individual policies on flamingo pet ownership from countries around the globe. So, let’s just stick with the United States for simplicity.

In 1918, America passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits the killing, capturing, selling, trading, and transportation of protected birds without the approval of the Department of Interior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Flamingos fall under that umbrella, which means capturing a wild flamingo and converting it into a pet is not legal in the United States. Additionally, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia have all entered into a version of this treaty with America in the years since it was originally instituted, so those countries also won’t take kindly to flamingo pets.

Exceptions are made for zoos and animal parks, but to get one as a private person is very difficult. So, while it can be legal to own a flamingo as a pet in the United States if you’re granted permission, your chances of getting the go-ahead are slim to none.

Second, The Practicality 

Let’s pretend you could legally and easily own a flamingo as a pet. Would it be a good idea?

No, not at all. We love flamingos and all of their majesty, but these beautiful birds are not meant for domestication. There are so many things a flamingo requires to not only survive but thrive, and the likelihood that a private person could offer and maintain these standards are very low. Do you have access to a big body of water, specifically saltwater? Is the climate where you live warm enough for flamingos? Can you consistently find acceptable quantities of shrimp, red algae, and other foods that flamingos eat that are not for sale in any pet store or really at all in general retail? Do you have the ability to install a net over the enclosure so the flamingos don’t fly away? Can you get together enough flamingos - 10 or more - so that they can socialize with one another to remain mentally well?

I’m hard-pressed to imagine you were able to answer yes to many of these questions, let alone all of them. Now consider that in order to get a flamingo, you’ll have to buy it from a licensed professional, and the cost of one of these birds will run you between $2,000 and $4,000. And remember, you can’t just have one flamingo; these fowls need a flamboyance to flock with, so you’d have to shell out much more than just the cost of one.

Conclusion: Get a Dog or Something

Photo by Firn/

Flamingos are amazing, outstanding creatures that deserve to be celebrated and heralded as the fabulous fowls they are. But they are not meant for domestication or to be treated as human pets. Forcing a flamingo to become your household friend would be bad for the bird, bad for your wallet, bad for your sanity, and most likely bad for your standing with the government.

It’s best for everyone to let the idea of having a flamingo as a pet remain a dreamland fantasy rather than a real-world reality.