How Long Do Flamingos Live in Captivity?

flamingos in captivity
Photo by GermanS/

Any answer for how long flamingos live in the wild is an educated guess. Tracking these things in a wild environment, especially the ones flamingos hang out in, is very difficult. But that’s different when the bird is in a totally controlled setting. So, how long do flamingos live in captivity?

How Long Do Flamingos Live in Captivity?

Flamingos in captivity can survive for up to 50 years, which is understood to be a fair bit longer than their wild counterparts generally do. Estimates of how long flamingos in the wild live range from 20 to 30 years. These numbers can also vary among the species of the fabulous fowl.

Why Do Flamingos in Captivity Live So Much Longer?

Your suspicions that consistent access to food, medical care, and a predator-free environment are why flamingos usually live longer in captivity compared to the wild are founded in sound logic.

Flamingos at zoos and other enclosures have some serious advantages over their friends out there roughin’ it. Not just anyone can own a flamingo, and there’s a steep barrier to entry. You have to be able to afford the thousands of dollars the bird itself will cost, plus obtain special licensing. That means that pretty much only zoos that are well-stocked with tasty morsels, a staff that works to keep its residents happy, and the proper physical environment flamingos need are the ones willing and able to invest the time and money to purchase one of these birds.

flamingos peacock
Photo by GermanS/

Flamingos living without borders don’t experience those same luxuries in the swamps and lagoons they call home. Their health care marketplace is notoriously shambolic. Still, they can sometimes live for a tremendously long time, outpacing even flamingos spending their days under a net.

Now, that’s not to say that flamingos are completely better off living in captivity than in the wild. For example, these birds need a lot of rainfall in order to reproduce. In the wild, if wherever the flamboyance has settled isn’t getting the necessary amount of rain, the flamingos can fly elsewhere. If the zoo where flamingos are being held isn’t getting enough rain for them to be fruitful and multiply, there’s nothing that can be done. Not even zoo administrators can make the rain come.

flamingo rain captivity
Photo by MohammedMuhaymin/

But Chilean Flamingos Are Different

For most flamingos, living in captivity probably equates to a longer lifespan. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for Chilean flamingos, one of the more unique species of the bird.

Chilean flamingos have been found to live longer in the wild than when behind bars. Hitting 50 isn’t unusual for these fowls in the wild, but in captivity, their average lifespan is about 40. The oldest-ever Chilean flamingo in captivity made it to 44.

That said, like with other flamingos, their lifespans in the wild aren’t fully understood. And these birds can live 4,500 meters up in the Andes, so they’re not the easiest animal to keep tabs on.

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