Saturday 10 December 2016

Man fatally injures Pinky the dancing flamingo at Florida theme park

Tamara Lush in Tampa

Published 03/08/2016 | 18:28

A Chilean flamingo named Pinky is pictured in Busch Gardens, in Tampa Bay, Florida Busch Gardens Tampa Bay/Handout via REUTERS
A Chilean flamingo named Pinky is pictured in Busch Gardens, in Tampa Bay, Florida Busch Gardens Tampa Bay/Handout via REUTERS

Vets at Busch Gardens had to put down Pinky the dancing flamingo after a man grabbed her from an animal viewing area and threw her to the ground.

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According to a police report, 45-year-old Joseph Anthony Corrao of Orlando was visiting the theme park with his family on Tuesday when he reached into a pen in the Jambo Junction area, picked up the flamingo and threw her down.

Police Spokesman Stephen Hegarty said Corrao handled the bird "violently".

Corrao was detained by the park's security and arrested by Tampa police on a charge of animal cruelty after witnesses said they saw him throw the flamingo.

Busch Gardens said the bird suffered injuries so "traumatic" that she could not be saved.

"A very sad and hard day for us here," said a park spokeswoman Karen Varga-Sinka.

Pinky, 19, was a Chilean flamingo, hatched at the park in 1996. Her dancing movements made her one of the park's stars.

"Pinky loved to dance for our guests," said Ms Varga-Sinka.

"Her keepers say that this is not a trained behaviour, but a natural behaviour she loved to show off.

"Flamingos are filter feeders, using their beaks to strain tasty morsels out of the water around them as they wade.

"To stir up the tastiest treats, flamingos will stamp their webbed feet. Pinky often performed this toe-tapping behaviour out of the water for guests."

Pinky also appeared on behalf of the park's conservation and education efforts as an "ambassador animal".

"She will be sorely missed," Ms Varga-Sinka added.

The park has 20 flamingoes, a mix of Chilean and Caribbean.

Corrao was released from jail early on Wednesday on a $2,000 bond.

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