Family man kills Tampa park 'ambassador'

2016-08-03 19:49
An undated photo by Bush Gardens Tampa Bay shows Pinky, a flamingo at the park in Tampa. (Bush Gardens Tampa Bay via AP)

An undated photo by Bush Gardens Tampa Bay shows Pinky, a flamingo at the park in Tampa. (Bush Gardens Tampa Bay via AP)

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Tampa - Veterinarians at Busch Gardens had to euthanise "Pinky" the flamingo after a man grabbed her from an animal viewing area and threw her to the ground.

According to a police report, 45-year-old Joseph Anthony Corrao of Orlando was visiting the theme park with his family on Tuesday when he reached into a pen in the Jambo Junction area, picked up the flamingo and threw her down.

Police spokesperson Stephen Hegarty said Corrao handled the bird "violently."

Corrao was detained by the park's security and arrested by Tampa police on a charge of felony animal cruelty after witnesses said they saw him throw the flamingo. Busch Gardens said the bird suffered injuries so "traumatic" that she could not be saved.

"A very sad and hard day for us here," said a park spokesperson Karen Varga-Sinka.

Pinky, 19, was a Chilean flamingo, hatched at the park in 1996. Her dancing movements made her one of the park's stars.

"Pinky loved to dance for our guests," said Varga-Sinka. "Her keepers say that this is not a trained behaviour, but a natural behaviour she loved to show off.

"Flamingos are filter feeders, using their beaks to strain tasty morsels out of the water around them as they wade. To stir up the tastiest treats, flamingos will stamp their webbed feet. Pinky often performed this toe-tapping behaviour out of the water for guests."

Pinky also appeared on behalf of the park's conservation and education efforts as an "ambassador animal".

"She will be sorely missed," said Varga-Sinka.

The park has 20 flamingoes, a mix of Chilean and Caribbean.

Corrao was released from jail early Wednesday on a $2 000 bond. Records did not list an attorney for him.

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