Wild flamingos in Bonaire, Netherlands were starving to death. They had no one to care for them and many were malnourished. Elly Albers saw the need and decided to do something to help the flamingos.
Elly is the owner of Mangrove Information Center, guided kayak and solar boat tours of the mangroves, and noticed all the starving wild birds. She decided to open an animal shelter, Bonaire Wild Bird Rehab, on the island to care and feed the wild birds. She takes in sick, injured and orphaned birds and nurses them back to health. Once they are healthy and strong she returns them to the wild.
A typical day for Elly starts with feeding hungry birds at 7am. Originally, there were roughly 40 flamingos that would come for breakfast, but within a few months the number grew to hundreds.
She told The Dodo, “I think it’s better that there’s a place they can eat and then they can fly away.” Although, some of the wild flamingos choose to hang out at the shelter for the day. She said they all have unique personalities. “They’re just like dogs and cats.”
The rest of her day is spent caring for the chicks and releasing rehabilitated birds to the wild. She could not care for all the birds without the help from volunteers. They come to the shelter to help bottle feed chicks, care for injured birds and help release them back to the wild.
“It’s also nice to see that there are many people in the world who do love animals, who have passion and empathy.”
The team releases the flamingos on the cove near the breeding grounds and wishes them luck. “The flamingos need to remain wild. They need to go back to their own habitat.”
The shelter is not open for visitors as all the animals are wild. Currently, there are 60-80 young flamingos that choose to reside in the front of the Mangrove Center. While this is not ideal, the birds are healthy and the shelter hopes they will return to the wild soon.
In the meantime, the shelter posted, “If you visit the mangrove center or if you drive to Lac, please slow down, because you will very likely encounter many juvenile flamingos on your path.”
People like Elly and all the volunteers help restore our faith in humanity. Together, we can make a difference.
Watch how starving flamingos are given a second chance in the video below. Don’t forget to share this inspiring story with your friends.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.