How does it feel to a have an up-close and personal encounter with two exotic pink flamingoes?
Nature lovers can find out during a once-a-day “Flamingle” experience at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.
“Flamingle” is the latest offering at the popular conservatory, a 5,000-square-foot glass-domed rainforest-like habitat where visitors can walk among some 1,000 butterflies from 50 to 60 species. Guests also can observe about 20 species of birds and learn about butterflies’ stages of development, life cycle and role in the natural world.
The flamingos, a 6-year-old male and female breeding pair dubbed Rhett and Scarlett, were bred in Toronto and arrived at the conservatory in July 2013. As they grew, their colorful pink plumage, social nature and foot-patting “dancing” in their wading pond made them visitor favorites and resident celebrities.
During the hour-long encounter, human participants sit in a white gazebo overlooking the pond and lushly planted conservatory. Rhett and Scarlett walk free and interact as they choose.
“We have had people here literally in tears at the response that they get in mingling with the flamingos,” said conservatory CEO George Fernandez. “The experience will hopefully teach them to not only respect nature, but to love nature and to understand what an incredible world we have.”
The flamingos often play with guests’ hair, respond to human chatter with loud cries and spread their graceful coral-pink wings. Though participants are not allowed to touch the birds, they are encouraged to communicate and enjoy the inter-species interaction.
“This is special, special privilege for them to sit there and bond with an animal they obviously love and admire,” said Fernandez.
“Flamingle” is offered at 4:45 p.m. daily and is limited to six guests.