DENVER (CBS4) – The work of Denver Zoo personnel is expanding, this time to Kimberley, South Africa.

“When I got there actually was when I realized how much help they really needed,” Eva Smoot said.

(credit: Denver Zoo)

Smoot, a Veterinary Technician at the Denver Zoo, and two of her colleagues are part of an international effort to rescue and rehabilitate more than 1,800 lesser flamingo chicks. The chicks were abandoned when drought hit.

(credit: Denver Zoo)

“The dam actually dried up so that means that the adults couldn’t eat at all, so they left the area which left behind all the babies,” she said. “If we hadn’t intervened they would have just starved to death.”

Her work in Africa was all hands on, tasked with aiding the most debilitated birds. She documented her efforts on video.

(credit: Denver Zoo)

“It’s always an emotional job seeing all the flamingos there, and they were babies too which played into the emotional side of it too,” Smoot said

Already, 800 of those chicks are set to be reintroduced into the wild. An example of conservation work the zoo is not often recognized for, but Communications Director Jake Kubie says they are involved with regularly.

(credit: Denver Zoo)

“We really feel it’s our responsibility to be protectors of wildlife and fortunately we have the staff the resources and the expertise to help in that effort,” Kubie said.

For Smoot, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and exactly what she signed up for.

“You do your best, and you do what you can and you know you are making some kind of difference,” she said.

Denver doesn’t have a lesser flamingo exhibit, so none of those birds will be coming to Denver, but some of those that can’t be re-introduced will go to other zoos around the country.

Karen Morfitt

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