Photo by JonRuizOrtiz/Shutterstock.com
Humans with arthritis are sometimes recommended to try hydrotherapy to help ease the pain on their joints, and flamingos are no different. At the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, zoo staff utilize hydrotherapy for their flamingos with arthritis.
National Geographic went to Columbus, Ohio, to document one of these sessions, which includes two members of zoo personnel taking a pair of flamingos - Martini and Haleakala - into an indoor pool with stingrays on the bottom, a new introduction for both the birds and the aquatic animals! Don’t worry, the stingrays had their barbs removed beforehand, so there was no danger to the flamingos nor the zookeepers during this physical therapy session.
This wonderous four-minute video from 2018 takes you through the entire process - from escorting the flamingos out of their habitat and into the indoor facility to hoisting them into the pool, their interactions with the stingrays, and more.
Why is this hydrotherapy helpful for the flamingos? These birds are regularly in the water, so why would putting them in a different pool make a difference? One of the zookeepers in the video explains the method’s purpose.
“When you see flamingos, they’re iconic for standing on one leg, which is actually an energy-saving mechanism for them,” she says in the video. “Hydrotherapy is very important, because to actually get them to do exercise, they don’t normally do that very often. Encouraging them to move around a lot is basically therapeutic for them and getting them to use their muscles in an encouraging way.”
I knew that water aerobics and hydrotherapy was excellent exercise for humans, but I had no idea that such a treatment was also good for our pink friends. This video is educational, but it’s even more adorable! Your heart will melt at the very beginning when the flamingo and zookeeper embrace, and seeing the flamingos nuzzle up to their human buddies in the pool is guaranteed to bring a smile out of you.
This video is simply too wholesome to ignore, so we had to feature it on The Popular Flamingo for other flamingo fanatics to enjoy!