A flamingo is dead after an incident at Busch Gardens in Tampa, in which the bird was allegedly thrown by a Florida man and left with injuries so severe that it needed to be euthanized, authorities said.
Pinky, a Chilean flamingo, suffered “traumatic injuries” in the Tuesday night attack, Karen Varga-Sinka, a spokeswoman for Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island, said in an emailed statement. The flamingo was rushed to an animal-care center, but veterinarians decided that its injuries were too great.
“Pinky was a beloved member of the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay family and made many appearances on behalf of the park’s conservation and education efforts,” Varga-Sinka said in the statement. “She will be sorely missed.”
An Orlando man was arrested in connection with the incident. Joseph Anthony Corrao was visiting the theme park with his family, according to the Tampa Police Department.
Authorities believe Corrao, 45, reached into a pen at an animal viewing area and picked up the flamingo. Witnesses saw him throw the flamingo down to the ground, according to police.
Corrao was charged with felony animal cruelty, Tampa police said in an email. He was being held on $2,000 bond, online Hillsborough County records indicate. It was not clear whether he already had an attorney.
Pinky liked to dance for guests at the park, Varga-Sinka said in her email. She would tap her webbed feet, something that flamingos do when they are feeding. (You can see her dance in the video above.)
“Her keepers say that this is not a trained behavior, but a natural behavior she loved to show off,” Varga-Sinka wrote.
The Tampa Bay Times spoke with Bill Androckitis, a theme park enthusiast and writer, who told the newspaper that the bird and her dance were well known.
Reports the Times:
Androckitis said the pen set up for flamingos at Jambo Junction allows them to walk up to people.
“But usually if you put your hand out, they’ll run away,” he said.
A bird like Pinky likely isn’t as afraid of people — she’s around them more often than most birds.
“Likely, it wasn’t an issue for her to be approached,” he said. “But I just can’t, I don’t understand. To do that to any animal in the wild or in Busch Gardens is a despicable thing.”