Rare Andean flamingos in Britain have laid eggs for the first time in 15 years, and experts have credited Europe’s recent heat wave.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust said record-breaking temperatures led six flamingos to lay nine eggs at the Gloucestershire reserve in southwest England.
But none of them hatched, because the expectant mothers' eggs were not fertilised.
Because the birds won't be able to watch their own eggs hatch, the reserve gave them eggs from their near relatives, Chilean flamingos, to look after.
"With the Andeans in full parenting mode, we gave them Chilean chicks to bring up as their own," aviculture manager at the Slimbridge reserve, Mark Roberts told the Associated Press. "It's great motivation and enriching for the birds."
The move may encourage the birds to lay more eggs, and the reserve is hopeful that one of the flamingos could be fertile.
The flock last laid eggs in 2003, though it last successfully bred in 1999, according to a news release from the reserve.
The Andean flamingos are some of the oldest animals at the wildlife reserve in England — some of the birds arrived in the 1960s and have lasted longer than any of the staff.
The birds, which are pink and black with yellow legs and black beaks, can breed into old age, though their fertility decreases over time.
It is estimated that only about 38,000 Andean flamingos exist today, making it "the rarest species of flamingo", according to Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology.
The Andean flamingo is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red list.
The United Kingdom faced record-breaking heat in May and had its second-hottest June ever, according to the Met Office National Climate Information Centre.
The average high for the month was 22.5°C, though the town Faversham in Kent saw a high of 35°C, the highest UK July temperature since 2015.
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