No bird may claim a cultural influence as big and long as the flamingo, and no place in Connecticut is featuring the big pink icons this summer except The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
A small flock, or “flamboyance,” of flamingos will be standing – often, on one leg – in the aviary on the Aquarium’s riverfront courtyard from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. (That’s May 27-Sept. 4.) The exhibit is free with Aquarium admission.
“For family fun this summer, The Maritime Aquarium has more big sharks, the greatest variety of jellyfish, the only black dragon and the ‘greenest’ research vessel, while also being the most affordable aquarium in New England,” Sigworth said. “This flamingo exhibit is the pink icing on the cake.”
Sigworth added that the flamingos exhibit will complement the new IMAX® movie, “Amazon Adventure,” opening July 1 on the Aquarium’s six-story screen.
“People love flamingos because they’re just such a big and beautiful and interesting bird,” said Dave Sigworth, the Aquarium’s publicist. “Cultures have been celebrating them for ages – literally – and now we’re offering our guests the exclusive chance.”
Ancient Egpytians are said to have used the flamingo to represent the reincarnation of their sun god. The birds have turned up in cave paintings in Spain and in ancient art of Peru. Alice used a flamingo as a croquet mallet when she went through the looking glass. And, of course, pink flamingos became a cultural icon of leisure and tropical travel in 1950s’ America … although today the image has evolved to represent hip high kitsch.
Displayed at The Maritime Aquarium will be six Chilean flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis), a larger species – 4 to 5 feet tall – native to southern South America. They’re distinguished from other flamingo species by their paler plumage, by the downward half of their bills being black, and by their greyish legs with notably pink “knees.” (Although, technically, what looks like their knees are really their “ankles.”)
Chilean flamingos are considered to be “Near Threatened,” with humans representing their main threat because of hunting, egg harvesting and by the loss of – and changes to – their natural habitats.
The birds at the Aquarium are on loan for the summer from a zoo in Louisiana.
Get details about all of the Aquarium’s summer offerings – including cruises onto Long Island Sound, a mesmerizing expanded jellyfish area, and the new IMAX movie “Amazon Adventure” – at www.maritimeaquarium.org.