The escaped flamingo number 492 was discovered in Texas 17 years later

According to Jennica King and Anne Heitman, the zoo’s director of strategic communications and bird management, one of 40 flamingos brought from Tanzania, Africa to Kansas’s Sedgwick County Zoo in 2003, number 492 arrived. when it is 2 or 3 years old. , corresponding.

A few years later, on July 2, zookeepers cut the flamingo feathers, a “completely painless” process similar to that of humans, Heitman said. In the process, a “big wind hit” and some of the uncut birds were able to fly away, King said.

Birds molt anywhere from twice a year to once or twice a year in a cycle called molting, and owners trim new feathers once they’ve finished growing, Heitman said. Feather clipping is a common and temporary form of flight restriction used not only by zoos, but also by hobbyists who do not want the birds to reach their full potential for flight.

Most of the birds fly around the zoo, then come back. But two – number 492 and its companion, number 347 – did not. Eventually, they reached a marshy, grassland drainage area about 100 or 200 yards from the zoo. The two flamingos spent several days there, dodging and running away from the zookeepers, who frantically tried to get close enough to get them.

A great storm hit on July 4, leaving two determined flamingos on their way to find good. Number 347 went north and was spotted once in Minnesota, then never again, King said.

Julie Hagan, social media specialist for Texas Parks Coastal Fisheries & Wildlife. The ministry has nicknamed number 492 “Pink Floyd.”

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In the video that Foreman shared with the Texas department, Pink Floyd’s identifiable yellow band with “492” printed on it is not seen, Hagan said. But Pink Floyd is the only flamingo that the department or anglers have seen for several springs in a row, so they believe Monday’s spotted flamingo is number 492 – especially because the bird Flamingos are not native to North America.

In North Africa, flamingos of the Pink Floyd type – “bigger flamingos” – live on salt lakes, so the salty waters and mild climate of the sunny Gulf Coast are perfect for him, King and Heitman say.

And “there’s a lot of food for him to eat there,” added King. The larger flamingos are filter feeders, screening small plants, including algae and small plankton, and small animals – such as brine shrimp – out of the water. The brine shrimp is what gives the flamingos their pink color.

“We believe it’s actually moving around and tracking food sources, which is why the number 492 is only occasionally seen,” Heitman said. “As the food source decreases and flows, (flamingos) follow them everywhere. So he may be traveling to other regions where people may not see him. But he will can find the foods he needs there.”

‘Humans are his biggest threat’

Sedgwick County Zoo has taken the adage “If you love it, let it go” to heart. “When it flew away and was discovered in Texas, we were certainly pleased to know that it was fine,” King said. “Every time we hear about it being discovered every few years, we’re still pleased that he’s doing well.”

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“We decided very early on, as soon as he flew down to Texas, that we would not make any effort that would harm him or harm the wildlife around him, ‘ added King. “His presence down there doesn’t harm the ecosystem or anything, and he’s not a nuisance. Flamingos are very non-aggressive birds.”

Flamingos in the wild can live up to 40 years old, while flamingos under human care can live much longer. The oldest flamingo in the Sedgwick County Zoo lived to be 60 years old.

Only about 20 years old, Pink Floyd was years ahead of him, King said. Aside from any potentially severe storms, “really the only threat to him down there would be humans, if people tried to get too close, try to catch him, or harm him.” me in a way,” she added.

If you see Pink Floyd, you can look and take pictures, but keep your distance, King and Heitman said.

“We don’t want him to feel threatened and end up harming himself or inevitably someone else harming him,” King added.

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