Flamingos aren’t commonly seen in Texas, but because of one animal’s ambitions, locals here occasionally get a peek of 492, a flamingo that escaped from a zoo 17 years ago. The bird has been on the run since 2005, when it and a friend escaped out of the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, with the number 492 on their leg bands. While the escape was successful, it wasn’t exactly a clever theft. Unlike Wallace and Gromit’s Feathers McGraw, 492 and his accomplice just flew out of the zoo after keepers failed to cut their feathers.
The health and volume of a bird’s plumage have a significant impact on its ability to fly. Adult birds cannot have their wings “clipped,” which is a harmless surgery for young birds. Rather than subjecting 492 and his flock to the agony of feather cutting, the zoo chose to pluck a few feathers here and there to render the flying birds flightless and prevent inadvertent escapes.
In the instance of 492, it appears that the time between “haircuts” was too lengthy, as the bird took to the sky and flew away. Several sightings have occurred in the 17 years since the flamingos escaped, the most recent being near Edna, Texas. Flamingos aren’t plentiful here, but the roseate spoonbill, a pinkish bird, is. David Foreman, a machinist and fishing guide, has long pointed out this disparity to guests who mistakenly believe they’ve sighted a flamingo.
That is, until 10 March, when he boarded a boat into Port Lavaca, according to the New York Times. There, on a short strip of sand, Texas Parks & Wildlife’s 492, or “Pink Floyd,” as it’s become known, could be seen in all its long-legged magnificence. The Spoonbill spiel has been destroyed, but Foreman has taken the contradiction in stride.
He described it as “almost like nature’s way of putting me in my place.” “Does Mr. Know-It-All believe there are no flamingos in Texas?” Please have a look at this.” The escaped flamingos are from Tanzania, and they were transferred to the United States in 2004. Although no one anticipated a flamingo to settle in Texas, it appears that 492 is thriving. Like Gladys, the runaway Eurasian eagle-owl, who may have taken out a few pets during her time on the run, zoo escapes sometimes happen, but regrettably, not all fugitives fare as well.