The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory has added more wings to its exhibit -- but these new residents are not its normal denizens.
Sam Trophia, president and co-owner of the conservatory, has imported two flamingos from Toronto Zoo.
"We wanted to stand out and be on the cutting edge," said Trophia. "Conservatories are popping up everywhere and we wanted to have a distinct identity -- so we added flamingos."
The conservatory, at 1316 Duval St., offers more than a recreational stroll through the magic world of butterflies. A large array of birds, frogs, plants, fish and turtles from around the world also have an educational aspect, according to store manager Amanda Scott.
The flamingos are juveniles, 18 months old, and have not completely reached their full pink color. The birds' krill diet will help turn them to a vibrant shade of pink.
The conservatory bought a male and female, but is not intending to breed them, Trophia explained.
"Fish and Wildlife [Service] does not recommend breeding these animals, but if they were to mate we would let nature take its course," he said.
Some modifications had to be made to a pond's filter system and the grounds to better suit the flamingos -- the birds have sensitive feet.
"They are used to standing on sandbars, so we had to accommodate their needs," he said.
The tropical birds took a few days to adjust after the trip down south, Trophia said.
"In the beginning, the flamingos were shy about the butterflies. They were making a honking noise every time they were close," he said. "They soon realized they weren't a threat."
A lot of permits and red tape were required to get them down here; they are the first birds of their kind in the Keys, Trophia said. He also plans on having a "name that flamingo contest" to give the birds proper names.
Months of planning and preparing preceded the flamingos' arrival, Trophy said.
Alex Press is an intern with The Citizen and a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.