Pink Floyd, a fugitive flamingo on the run for 17 years from a Kansas zoo, has been spotted

Apr 1, 2022, 2:43 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:17 pm

(CNN) — On a stormy Independence Day in Wichita, Kansas, in 2005, flamingo No. 492 went rogue. The bird was spotted around 600 miles away Monday — nearly 17 years later — by fishing guide and angler David Foreman, according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife department.

One of 40 flamingos brought from Tanzania, Africa, to Kansas’ Sedgwick County Zoo in 2003, No. 492 arrived when it was 2 or 3 years old, according to Jennica King and Anne Heitman, the zoo’s director of strategic communications and curator of birds, respectively.

A couple of years later, on July 2, zookeepers went to clip the flamingos’ feathers, a “completely painless” process that’s similar to humans getting a haircut, Heitman said. During that process, a “big gust of wind came up,” and several birds that hadn’t yet had their feathers clipped were able to fly away, King said.

Birds replace their feathers anywhere from twice per year to every one or two years during a cycle called molting, and keepers cut the new feathers once they’re done growing, Heitman said. Feather clipping is a common and temporary form of flight restriction used not only by zoos, but also people who have pet birds and don’t want the birds to have their full flight potential.

Most of the birds circled the zoo, then returned. But two — No. 492 and its companion, No. 347 — did not. They ended up in a grassy, marshy flood drainage area about 100 or 200 yards away from the zoo. The two flamingos spent a couple of days there, dodging and fleeing from zookeepers who frantically tried to get close enough to retrieve them.

A big thunderstorm hit July 4, sending the two determined flamingos on their way for good. No. 347 went north and was spotted once in Minnesota, then never again, King said.

But the South is where No. 492 has seemed to find its home, as it has been spotted every year for the past five years on the Gulf Coast of Texas, said Julie Hagan, social media specialist for the coastal fisheries division of Texas Parks & Wildlife. The department has nicknamed No. 492 “Pink Floyd.”

In the video Foreman shared with the Texas department, Pink Floyd’s identifiable yellow band with “492” printed on it isn’t visible, Hagan said. But Pink Floyd is the only flamingo the department or fishers have seen for several consecutive springs, so they’re confident the flamingo spotted Monday is No. 492 — especially since flamingos aren’t native to North America.

In Northern Africa, flamingos of Pink Floyd’s type — “greater flamingos” — live on salt lakes, so the salt water and mild climate of the sunny Gulf Coast are perfect for him, King and Heitman said.

And “there’s plenty of food for him to eat there,” King added. Greater flamingos are filter feeders, sifting small plants, including tiny plankton and algae, and little animals — such as brine shrimp — out of the water. Brine shrimp are what gives flamingos their pink color.

“We believe he actually moves around and follows food sources, which is why No. 492 is only sighted occasionally,” Heitman said. “As the food sources ebb and flow, (flamingos) follow them around. So he’s probably traveling to other regions, just where people aren’t probably seeing him. But he should be able to find the types of foods that he needs down there.”


‘People are his biggest threat’


Sedgwick County Zoo has taken the adage “If you love it, let it go” to heart. “Once it flew away and was spotted in Texas, we were certainly happy to hear that it was OK,” King said. “Every time we hear of it being spotted every couple of years, we’re still pleased that he’s doing well.”

“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,” King added. “His presence down there is not hurting 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 the Sedgwick County Zoo has had lived to age 60.

Only about 20 years old, Pink Floyd has many years ahead of him, King said. Besides any potential severe storms, “really the only threats to him down there would be humans, if people try to get too close, try to capture him or harm him in some way,” she added.

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

“We don’t want him feeling threatened and to end up harming himself or certainly have someone else harm him,” King added.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

FILE: The Instagram app logo is displayed on an iPhone on Aug. 3, 2016, in London, England.  (Photo...
Rachel Metz, CNN Business

Instagram is testing AI that verifies your age with a selfie scan. It’s not perfect

Instagram is testing new ways to verify its youngest users' ages, including by using artificial intelligence that analyzes a photo and estimates how old the user is.
12 hours ago
Azuradee France, mother of the child found in a freezer in the basement of her Detroit home. (Credi...
Benjamin Schiller and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN

Michigan mother charged with killing toddler son whose body was in freezer

A mother in Detroit has been charged with murder after the body of her 3-year-old son was found in a freezer Friday.
12 hours ago
The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The court in its nex...
Associated Press

Supreme Court rules for inmates seeking reduced prison terms

The Supreme Court has made it easier for certain prison inmates to seek shorter sentences under a bipartisan 2018 federal law.
12 hours ago
Emergency lights...
Associated Press

Police say restaurant workers shot in argument over mayo

Police say a man who complained there was too much mayonnaise on his sandwich opened fire at a Subway sandwich shop in Atlanta, killing one employee and injuring another.
12 hours ago
Law enforcement officers stand inside the secure perimeter of the U.S. Supreme Court Building as pr...
JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press

Supreme Court sides with coach who sought to pray after game

The Supreme Court has sided with a football coach from Washington state who sought to kneel and pray on the field after games.
12 hours ago
NASA has carried out its first commercial spaceport launch outside the United States. (Equatorial L...
Kathleen Magramo, CNN

NASA launches first rocket from Australian space center

NASA has successfully launched a rocket from Australia's remote Northern Territory, making history as the agency's first commercial spaceport launch outside the United States.
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Pink Floyd, a fugitive flamingo on the run for 17 years from a Kansas zoo, has been spotted