Runaway flamingo turns up in Bern’s historic old town

The Swiss capital received a surprise visitor on Monday night in the form of a flamingo.

Runaway flamingo turns up in Bern’s historic old town
File photo: Depositphotos

Trams and buses were forced to stop as the pink bird wandered around the city’s Casinoplatz square, according to eyewitnesses.

Police managed to divert the flamingo off tram tracks but then needed half an hour to catch the animal.

It later emerged the bird was an escapee from the city’s Dählhölzli animal park.

Dählhölzli director Bernd Schildger said he wasn’t sure why the flamingo had decided to go on an evening excursion into the city.

“The scientific literature indicates flamingos stay in a group,” he told regional daily Berner Zeitung. When several birds remain in the same location for a period of time, the other animals stick around too.

“We have around 40 years’ experience with flamingos and that’s what we have seen. Obviously, this flamingo has not read the literature,” the animal park director said.

Schildger added it was currently not possible to clip the wings of flamingos at the animal park as the animals were brooding and could not be disturbed.

He told Swiss news portal 20 Minuten that around 20 to 30 percent of the flamingos at the park had their wings clipped, and this was generally sufficient to deter other birds from flying away, even though they were perfectly capable of doing so.

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School Holiday Fun: March of the miniature pigs at Basel Zoo

Eight little miniature pigs at Basel Zoo have been keeping children entertained during the school holidays as they embark on their daily stroll from their stall to an outdoor enclosure.

School Holiday Fun: March of the miniature pigs at Basel Zoo
Mini pigs keep children happy at Basel Zoo. Photo: Basel Zoo

The piglets, born on March 20th, have been keeping their three-year-old parents Nera and Nino on their toes as they need constant care and supervision, especially during their daily move from their stall to an outdoor enclosure, an event that has attracted plenty of attention from zoo visitors.

According to Basel Zoo, these walks take practice – “not just for the miniature pigs, but also for kids at the children’s zoo, who have to make sure that the squealing troop stays together”.

This litter is the fifth one from experienced parents Nero and Nino, and despite their cheeky and inquisitive nature, all are doing well. 

“After a few initial training sessions in the stall, they now visit the outdoor enclosure every morning, before heading back to the stall in the afternoon. The walk helps train, occupy and exercise the miniature pigs all at once,” a statement from the zoo said.

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“It is important that the little ones learn from early on that they need to stay by their mother, as the temptation to disappear into the green areas by the wayside is very high for inquisitive piglets.” 

Photo: Basel Zoo

Child volunteers keep piglets in check

The children who volunteer at the children’s zoo help with the pig walks in an orderly fashion, a tough job as one group of children walks in a line, followed by someone luring the pigs with a feed bucket full of pieces of potato. The miniature pigs march in the middle of the procession. Meanwhile, the second line of children follows at a suitable distance to make sure that no piglets are left behind. Each child has a broom and if a piglet strays too far from its mother, they use their broom to tap it lightly on the ground near the little one, steering it back to its mum.

Once the baby pigs have had enough practice, experienced children will be able to lead the walk. 

Besides the popular miniature piglets, there are currently two young miniature goats and newly hatched Silkie chickens to be looked after by the children.

In 2018, children and young adults contributed around 4,100 full or half days of voluntary work under the watchful eye of the zookeepers. Helpers at the children’s zoo must be at least eight years old.