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

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover debris from a suspected Chinese sur...
Haley Britzky

US Navy releases photos of Chinese spy balloon recovery effort

The U.S. Navy released photos Tuesday of its recovery effort of a suspected Chinese spy balloon, which U.S. fighter jets shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.
17 hours ago
Powerball's second-largest jackpot — an estimated $1.2 billion — is up for grabs Wednesday. (Ke...
Associated Press

Lucky player in Seattle suburb wins $754.6M Powerball prize

Washington state lottery officials say a single winning ticket for a $754.6 million Powerball jackpot was sold at a department store in a Seattle suburb.
17 hours ago
FILE - In this image from video released and partially redacted by the city of Memphis, Tenn., Tyre...
Adrian Sainz, Associated Press

13 Memphis officers could be disciplined in Nichols case

Officials say 13 Memphis officers could end up being disciplined in connection with the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
17 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Cong...
Associated Press

Biden aims to deliver reassurance in State of Union address

President Joe Biden is ready to offer a reassuring assessment of the nation's condition rather than roll out flashy policy proposals as he delivers his second State of the Union address.
2 days ago
The near-collision happened at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, seen here from the air. (Kir...
Greg Wallace and Pete Muntean

Southwest, FedEx jets came within 100 feet of collision at Texas airport, investigators say

A Southwest passenger jet and a FedEx cargo plane came as close as 100 feet from colliding Saturday at the main airport in Texas' capital, and it was a pilot — not air traffic controllers — who averted disaster, a top federal investigator says.
2 days ago
In this handout photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nathan Lee Chasing ...
Rio Yamat, Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in Nevada sex abuse case

Former “Dances With Wolves” actor Nathan Chasing Horse has been formally charged in Nevada with eight felonies and two misdemeanors.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Pink Floyd, a fugitive flamingo on the run for 17 years from a Kansas zoo, has been spotted