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The dream is to catch a glimpse of a flamingo in the wild, but reality doesn’t always bend to our whims. In truth, while it is possible to see a flamingo in the wild in the United States, almost none of us will ever have that opportunity. But experiencing a flamingo in a zoo is much more attainable for the average American. So, we’ve put together some of the best American zoos to find the fabulous flamingo.
Keep in mind, there are many places to see flamingos in America. These are not the only zoos or enclosures of animal captivity to experience the beautiful bird. If you’re close enough to a zoo that has flamingos but isn’t on this list, don’t let it stop you from going! A flamingo is a flamingo is a flamingo - if you love this bird, you’ll have a good time regardless.
Let’s get into the zoos!
Best American Zoos for Flamingos
San Diego Zoo (San Diego, CA)
You won’t have to go far to find the flamingos at this zoo. The San Diego Zoo prominently displays its flamingos in the front of the zoo, and visitors can’t miss the fabulous fowls upon entering the zoo. Flamingos have called the San Diego Zoo home since 1932, and the zoo refers to the birds as their “unofficial ambassadors!”
Zoo Miami (Miami-Dade County, FL)
Zoo Miami has been instrumental in trying to bring flamingos back to Florida, and that alone means it deserves a spot on this list. Zoo Miami has been working with the Florida Flamingos Working Group (FFWG) to help prove that flamingos are in fact native to the Sunshine State, which would mean flamingos could be released into the wild in an effort to reintroduce the fowl to the Florida habitat.
This zoo is also where the story of Conchy occurred, which is tied into its efforts to bring the bird back to Florida. There’s a lot of important flamingo history and work happening at Zoo Miami.
Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (Omaha, NE)
The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska, opened a new-and-improved flamingo exhibit in 2021 as part of renovations to its 1.3-acre aviary. The zoo grew its flamingo population from eight to 30 and created two viewing decks for zoo-goers to go between - a ground walkway and a 375-foot platform. The flamingo habitat has a 9,000-gallon, mud bottom pond surrounded by beach clay beaches to provide the flamingos with a similar setup to what they’d receive in the wild, plus an indoor, 1,000-square foot building with a couple of pools and dry resting areas is available separately for the birds.
Sarasota Jungle Gardens
At the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, you can experience flamingos in ways that you rarely can anywhere else in the world. At this zoo, visitors can walk among the flamingos, feed, and pet the zoo’s fabulous fowls. Yes, that’s right - you can hang out with a flamboyance of flamingos at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Just don’t bring any food in - if you want to feed them, you have to buy specific food from the zoo to do so. But if you don’t want to feed them, you can still make some new flamingo friends! No promises they won’t prefer feeders, though.
Fort Worth Zoo (Fort Worth, TX)
The Fort Worth Zoo has successfully bred and reared four of the six flamingo species, which is one of the best records of any American zoo. In 2021, this zoo had 44 chicks hatch (12 Chilean, 24 lesser, and eight Caribbean), a small sample size of the amount of work the Fort Worth Zoo has put in the last couple of decades in growing its flamingo population. This zoo has the most successful breeding colony of lesser flamingos in the world, according to its website.