Listen to Article
A flamingo on the "run" from a Wichita, Kansas, zoo for 17 years was recently spotted in Texas. No. 492 and its buddy, No. 347, escaped from the Sedgwick County Zoo in 2005. While No. 347 has disappeared since, No. 492, nicknamed Pink Floyd by Texas officials, has been a frequent visitor to the Lone Star State. The famous fugitive's latest sighting, posted online on March 28, 2022, by the Texas Coastal Fisheries Division, is making headlines worldwide.
Jackson County resident David Foreman noticed the elegant, long-legged bird while fishing near Port Lavaca on the Texas Gulf Coast on March 10, 2022. "I was expecting to see a bunch of white pelicans from the east coast, coming down here for the wintertime," Foreman told the Guardian. Instead, he was treated to something that looked like a " poof-ball sitting on a leg."
Foreman became aware of Pink Floyd's daring stunt after posting the footage on social media. "That's when people started telling me, 'Oh, that's probably that escaped flamingo,'" he said. The hunch was confirmed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife officials. The experts say that though Foreman could not see the flamingo's tag, they are confident it was Pink Floyd.
Pink Floyd was one of 40 greater flamingos — the most widespread and largest species of the flamingo family — brought to the Kansas zoo from Tanzania in the early 2000s. The birds, which ranged between three and five years old, were all adults. Hence, the Sedgwick County Zoo staff decided to trim their wings — similar to giving a haircut — rather than surgically removing them as is done with newborns.
However, in 2005, the officials were a little late in clipping the wings, allowing No. 347 and No. 492 to take flight and escape. No 347, who flew north toward Michigan, was only seen once and is believed to have perished in the winter. Pink Floyd, who headed south, has been seen in Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas on numerous occasions. In 2006 and 2007, the escapee even found a companion — a Caribbean "refugee" flamingo who probably arrived in the US from Mexico during hurricanes Rita and Katrina. However, the two seemed to have parted ways since.
Despite the frequent sightings, the specifics of Pink Floyd's journey to the West South Central States remain a mystery. Also unclear is its gender and age. While the zoo officials suspect Pink Floyd is a male in his 20s, neither fact has been verified. The good news is that they have no plans of bringing the runaway flamingo back to Kansas.
Jennica King, a spokesperson for the Sedwick County Zoo says, "We decided very early on, once he flew down to Texas, that we would not make any efforts that could potentially harm him or harm the wildlife around him."
Resources: Smithsonianmag.com, NPR.com, theguardian.com