Flamingo No. 492 has been enjoying south Texas for the past 13 years after escaping from the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas. Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
It is incredibly rare to catch a glimpse of a African flamingo on the Texas coast, but if you do that, it is definitely the Flamingo No. 492. The striking pink bird on the flight and the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, since escape 13 years ago. Observations of No. 492 are rare, but the fugitive flamingo was spotted last month in Lavaca Bay, Texas, about halfway between Houston and Corpus Christi, The New York Times reported.
No. 492, together with 39 other flamingos, was sent to the Sedgwick County Zoo in Tanzania in 2003. Usually, zoos prevent the flamingos fly by amputating a part of their wings when they are newborns — a part that has not yet been developed feeling. But the flamingoes from Tanzania arrived at the zoo as adults, so curators there decided to clip the birds feathers instead, as a more humane solution for keeping the animals properly grounded, the time reported. [Photos: On the Lam: 10 of the Biggest Animals Escape Artists]
Clipped feathers grow back, however, and if they are not kept short, the bird will again have the opportunity to fly. So, in June 2005, the flamingo ‘ s No. 492 and No. 347 made use of their unclipped wings and flew out of their enclosure, the time reported. The couple settled down in a drainage channel where they evaded capture until a huge thunderstorm forced them to separate. No. 347 went north to Michigan and has not been seen since.
But No. 492 moved from the south to Texas, where the bird found a great place to settle down. “As long as they are this shallow, briny types of marshes, they can be pretty resilient,” Felicity’arengo, a flamingo expert at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, told the Times. No. 492 found, not only a great habitat, but also a colleague: a Caribbean flamingo that was probably moved during a tropical storm, the time reported.
Escaped zoo flamingo, on the lam since 2005, is spotted in the vicinity of Lavaca Bay by our Shore crew.
The African Flamingo her break from a Kansas zoo after keepers failed to clip his wings, and was spotted in several states since. pic.twitter.com/zsoYBf48Aa
— TX Parks & Wildlife (@TPWDnews) June 25, 2018
Ben Shepard, an intern with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, spotted No. 492 on May 23, during a bird survey in Lavaca Bay. He saw not No. 492 s Caribbean companion, but experts told the Times this does not mean that the companion is gone.
“It is possible that they are separated and back together again,” ‘arengo said at the Time. Experts also told the Times that No. 492 could live another 10 to 20 years, such as flamingos can live well into their 40s.
Original article on Live Science.