Flamingo Gardens recently celebrated two fantastic fifth birthdays! Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary resident Buddy the Florida Panther turned five years old on July 4th while James the Flamingo turned five on August 2nd.
Buddy is a Florida panther, which is also known as a cougar or mountain lion He is a subspecies of puma that is found only in southern Florida. Panthers like Buddy are usually loners. They are solitary and elusive cast, adapted to the swamps and forests of our region. The Florida panther is critically endangered, with only a small population remaining in the wild.
Guests at Buddy’s party not only included his many fans but also Stanley C. Panther of the Florida Panthers’ Hockey Team!
James the Flamingo is the only Flamingo to have been hatched and raised at Flamingo Gardens. Guests sang “Happy Birthday” and presented James with two special “Shrimp Cakes” to celebrate. Flamingos are iconic birds known for their vibrant pink plumage and distinctive long, slender necks. Flamingos used to be common in Florida but disappeared from the state around the turn of the 20th century. After about 1925, people started captive colonies of flamingos in South Florida.
Historically, there were native flamingo populations in Florida, particularly in the southern parts of the state and the Florida Keys. The American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) was present in these regions, but due to habitat destruction, hunting, and other factors, the native population of flamingos in Florida has significantly declined.
Today, the Caribbean and Central and South America are the primary habitats for wild populations of American flamingos. These birds thrive in shallow, saline or alkaline lagoons, estuaries, and coastal areas where they feed on algae, small invertebrates, and crustaceans. The distinctive pink color of their feathers is a result of the pigments in the food they consume.