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Escaped Flamingo Sighted 13 Years Later in Texas

Escaped Flamingo Sighted 13 Years Later in Texas

Flamingo . (Sunheyy/Dreamstime)

By    |   Friday, 29 June 2018 09:14 AM

An escaped flamingo was spotted in Texas 13 years after getting away from a Kansas zoo when an intern spotted it last month off the islands of Lavaca Bay in the Gulf of Mexico, The New York Times reported.

The bird, categorized as No. 492, made a break from the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas with another cellmate, No. 347, in June 2005, the newspaper said. Zoo keepers admitted that they likely had not clipped enough feathers from the flamingos to keep them from flying away, the Times wrote.

The flamingos were part of a flock of 40 from Tanzania that arrived at the zoo in 2003. No. 347 was spotted in AuTrain Lake in Michigan in August 2005 and may have died there because of the state's harsh winter, Scott Newland, the curator of birds at the zoo, told the Times.

No. 492, though, found a climate much more to its liking in Texas, where it apparently met up with a Caribbean flamingo, the newspaper said. The two were seen together in Texas in 2006 and as recently as 2013, the Times wrote.

But No. 492, though, was along when Ben Shepard, a Texas A&M-Corpus Christi student interning for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, spotted the bird on May 23 among a flock of sea gulls.

"It’s possible they're separated and will show up back together again," Felicity Arengo, a flamingo expert at the American Museum of Natural History told the Times.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department shared a photo of the flamingo standing out among the other birds earlier this week.

Newland said, though, that he believed to two bird had created a bond with each other.

"Even though they're two different species, they are enough alike that they would have been more than happy to see each other," Newland told the Times. "They're two lonely birds in kind of a foreign habitat. They're not supposed to be there, so they have stayed together because there's a bond."

According to National Geographic, flamingos are known for their bright pink feathers, stilt-like legs, and S-shaped neck. They are able to "run" on water, thanks to their webbed feet, to gain speed before lifting up into the sky, the magazine said. They build nests that look like mounds of mud along waterways.

Newland told the Times that No. 492 will be fine in Texas and it speaks to conservation efforts elsewhere that the flamingo could find itself a suitable home there.

"It's less about animals escaping from a zoo than how resilient the animals on our planet are," he told the newspaper.

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A flamingo that escaped from a Kansas zoo in 2005 was spotted last month off the islands of Lavaca Bay in the Gulf of Mexico, alive and well after 13 years on the lam.
escaped, flamingo, kansas, texas
Friday, 29 June 2018 09:14 AM
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