Can You Keep a Flamingo as Pet?

Trapping or capturing wild birds is illegal in many countries of the world, so it’s unlikely that you can legally own a flamingo as a pet in most countries of the world.

But even assuming that you could, the many special requirements of flamingos would be enough to dissuade you from this desire.

In this article, I will discuss the legality of owning a flamingo as well as the reasons why a flamingo is definitely not a good idea for a pet.

Is it Legal to Catch a Wild Flamingo?

In the USA it’s illegal to trap or catch a wild flamingo. The law that prohibits the capture of wild flamingos is the U.S. Migratory Bird Act of 1918.

But the US isn’t the only country to have laws that protect wild birds from entrapment. Many other countries have such laws, including countries in which flamingos are endemic.

That said, there are exceptions, where wildlife rescue organizations, zoos, or wildlife rehabilitation centers may be allowed to catch a wild flamingo, such as in cases where there’s an injured flamingo that needs medical attention, for example.

Once the bird is rehabilitated or recovered, they’ll be released back into the wild, unless the injury is so severe that the bird will be unable to survive on its own in the wild.

Flamingos are native to tropical and subtropical areas. In the United States, Florida is the only state with flamingos.

Flamingos are more abundant in Central and South America as well as southwestern, eastern and western Africa, northwestern India, the western Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

Is it Legal to Own a Flamingo?

Depending on where in the world you’re located in, you may or may not be allowed to own a flamingo.

Unless you’re a zoo or other wildlife organization – for example, a rescue center, rehabilitation center, national park, etc. – owning a wild flamingo is prohibited by law.

As a private person you cannot legally own a wild flamingo. Even if you could, flamingos have special keeping and feeding requirements that you could not meet.

Because flamingos need specialized care, which only wild animal rescues and zoos can provide, you’d have trouble keeping a flamingo healthy and happy.

There are several other birds that you can legally own, which are much easier to look after, and which you can buy from breeders or pet stores.

Where You Can Buy a Pet Flamingo?

Keep in mind that only special organizations can legally own flamingos, so buying a flamingo is not something you can do as a private person.

That said, zoos or other similar organizations may be able to buy flamingos from other such organizations or authorized breeders.

Although you may be able to source a flamingo from unauthorized breeders (i.e., the black market), you should know that trade with wild or exotic animals is also prohibited by law.

Not only that you cannot trap or capture a wild flamingo, but you also cannot buy or sell them either, unless you’re an authorized breeder. But even then, you can’t sell flamingos to just anyone.

Then there’s the aspect of creating a habitat that’s suitable for flamingos. Flamingos are highly social and need to be a part of a large group to be happy.

Another reason why owning a flamingo as a pet is generally a bad idea is simply that they don’t make good pets.

Do Flamingos Make Good Pets?

No, flamingos don’t make good pets. They’re wild animals with a lot of special requirements that aren’t easy to meet without specialized knowledge and an adequate habitat.

Here’s why you can’t raise a flamingo as a pet:

– Flamingos cannot be kept alone

Unlike other birds that thrive even if kept alone, flamingos are highly social animals that thrive only in large groups. That’s why it’s unusual to see flamingos in groups of only two or three, and they’re mostly seen in larger groups of ten or more individuals.

Animal parks, zoos, wildlife rescues have both the means and the know-how to keep these birds in an optimal habitat, where they can receive specialized care.

– Flamingos have a special diet

Flamingos feed on insects, red algae, larvae, and shrimp. The food they consume is actually important for the pigmentation of their feathers.

The pink color in a flamingo’s plumage is caused by the beta carotene pigment found in the foods that they consume.

When raised in captivity, flamingos are feed pellets rich in the pigment needed for the color of their feathers.

– Need a pond or water area

Animal parks or zoos will also have ponds or water areas for feeding flamingos considering that flamingos feed by trapping food inside their bills.

If flamingos are kept outside of their natural habitat, they need special housing that will keep them warm during the colder months.

All these are costly investments that private individuals are unlikely to afford.

What to Do If You Find a Flamingo?

It depends. Generally, it’s best to leave them alone, especially if they’re in a group or feeding. It’s not that they’re dangerous or aggressive, but they do have strong beaks, so it’s best not to bother them.

Flamingos don’t like to be touched or petted, so it’s best not to make them uncomfortable.

If you see a baby flamingo alone and somewhere where it’s normally not supposed to be (e.g. in your garden), secure the animal and call the wildlife rescue for help.

The baby flamingo must have ventured away from the flock and it’s likely dehydrated. While you can give the baby flamingo some water, make sure not to feed it as they require special food.

Likewise, if you see a flamingo that’s hurt or injured, call for help as soon as possible.


Flamingos don’t make good pets. They’re wild animals that thrive best in their natural habitat. They need food that they can source from the wild and need areas with water, where they can feed on red algae, insects, and shrimp.

It’s illegal to keep flamingos as pets and you should not attempt to capture them. Letting them be in their natural habitat and admiring the from afar is the best thing you can do for them.

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