Discovery Cove introduces Flamingo Point for mixing, mingling

Discovery Cove is pinker than it used to be now that its Flamingo Point is open.

The fenced-in, amoeba-shaped area gives visitors to the attraction, SeaWorld Orlando’s day resort, more access to the birds.

“Flamingo Point will be the first opportunity for our guests to see these guys all day long as part of their Discovery Cove experience,” said Buck Lyman, vice president of zoological operation. “So you can come watch them swim, play, interact with each other, nest in some cases and just generally strut their stuff.”

Flamingo Point is also the home of Flamingo Mingle, a Discovery Cove add-on activity that allows even closer encounters with the Caribbean flamingos. Some of them are 5 feet tall.

“These are some of the biggest, obviously brightest, most vibrantly pink flamingos there are. They’re also some of the most talkative,” Lyman said.

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Some of that chatter – somewhere between a squawk and a honk – is because it’s mating season.

“Flamingos generally mate for life so they’re talking to their mates. If you watch them long enough you can actually figure out who’s with who,” Lyman said.

But they’re also curious about the people who are curious about them. Some of the birds stand right next to the fence and seem to engage in a staring contest with visitors. (Flamingos are likely to lose because they look off to the left and right and back and forth a lot.)

“Nelly is one of our most outgoing flamingos. He’s always up here at the fence, always wanting to interact with people,” Lyman said.

If there are fewer people around, the birds are more likely to drift away from the fencing and do their wading thing or maybe catch one of those one-legged naps.

Expert aviculturalists are nearby to answer questions.

In the Flamingo Mingle option, visitors go inside a fenced area with the birds, get down on their level and feed them from a bowl. The flamingos eat in an upside-down (and sloppy) fashion with rapid tongue movement.

Although humans are asked not to touch the flamingos, the birds did not get the memo on a recent visit. They engaged with the visitors by rubbing against clothing, sniffing around shoes and picking at hair.

Mingle leaders inform the group about the birds’ biology, the one-legged standing position, the membrane over the eyes (which change color with age), their diets (shrimp and algae) and something called blood milk.

While flamingos have become synonymous with Florida, it hasn’t always been pretty.

“Flamingos actually have a troubled history in Florida. At the start of the 20th century, they were being killed in hundreds of thousands to decorate women’s hats and used for decorating clothes and to use for food,” said Katie Warner, director of the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland.

Five percent of Flamingo Mingle proceeds will be donated to Audubon Florida as part of a partnership dedicated to protecting birds and the places they need.

The draining and ditching of the Florida Everglades “eliminated much of their habitat that supported them to be able to thrive and thrive and live in Florida,” Warner said. “Audubon has been working for over 20 years in the Everglades, restoring habitat and water flow to improve places for birds like these.”

Flamingo Point can help raise awareness, she said.

“Meeting one of these special species can inspire a lifetime of appreciation for birds and inspire individuals to want to take action for conservation and protect these special species and the places that they live,” she said.

Discovery Cove has a varied animal population that includes free-flight birds, marmoset monkeys, otters, tropical fish, stingrays, sharks, dolphins and others.

The cost of the Flamingo Mingle upgrade ranges between $59 and $99, depending on the date. Admission to Discovery Cove runs between $179.20 and $399.20, depending on the date.

For tickets or more information about the attraction and other enhancements, go to

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