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Flamingo Escaped From Kansas Zoo Over 15 Years Ago Spotted In Texas

A Flamingo that escaped from a Kansas Zoo in 2005 has been seen hundreds of miles away off the coast of Texas.

The large pink bird was one of a pair of the long-legged avians that escaped from a Kansas zoo during a storm 17 years ago, according to Texas wildlife officials. The Coastal Fisheries Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife confirmed to The Associated Press that the African flamingo — known as No. 492 because of the number on its leg band — was captured on video shot in late March by an environmental activist near Port Lavaca, Texas, at Rhodes Point in Cox Bay.

Officials were able to make out the bird’s leg band on the video.

The bird and another flamingo escaped from the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita on a stormy night in June 2005. Employees had not yet clipped the birds’ wings to prevent them from flying, which facilitated their escape.

“Looks like Pink Floyd has returned from the ‘dark side of moon’!” the Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wrote on Facebook, showing a video of the flamingo towering over some seabirds. The department gave No. 492 the nickname “Pink Floyd,” reported The Kansas City Star.

While the other flamingo was never seen again, No. 492 has been spotted several times in Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Texas, sometimes with other wild flamingos. Officials said it had been a year or two since the bird was last seen in Texas.

At one point, it even found a companion—a Caribbean flamingo that may have come to the U.S. from Mexico during hurricanes Rita and Katrina reported to the Associated Press in 2007. 

“Even though they’re two different species, they are enough alike that they would have been more than happy to see each other,” said Scott Newland, the curator of birds at the zoo at the time. “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.”

Zoo officials have never made plans to recapture No. 492, despite the sightings, saying there is no easy way to do so without disturbing other wildlife.

The escaped flamingos, known for their distinctive pink feathers and long legs and necks, were born in Africa and then shipped to the Kansas zoo in 2004 with 39 other flamingos.

After concern from users on Facebook about invasive species, Texas Parks and Wildlife assured commenters in 2018 that the flamingo was unlikely to be a threat. 

“While this flamingo is not native to Texas, keep in mind that female flamingos can only produce about one egg a year,” the department wrote. “Invasive species are definitely a threat to our natural ecosystems — but we aren’t really worried about this one!”