An African flamingo that escaped from a Kansas zoo 17 years ago is still living its finest life in the outdoors, in a twist that sounds like something out of a Disney movie. The flamingo, known as No. 492 because of the number on its leg band, was last seen in 2019. It suddenly reappeared. The encounter was reported on the Texas coast by a local fisherman and wildlife guide.
So, how did a flamingo from Africa find up in Texas? The narrative begins in 2003, when No. 492 and 39 of its friends were moved from Tanzania to the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas. Everything was OK at the zoo until one windy day in 2005, when visitors realized that two flamingos, Nos. 492 and 347, had escaped from their area. Staff personnel did not trim the flamingos’ wings since doing so was deemed cruel because the flamingos arrived at the zoo as adults. Instead, they’d kept the birds from flying by trimming their feathers once a year. According to the zoo’s curator of birds in 2018, this kept them grounded and was as harmless as a haircut.
However, as luck would have it (at least for the birds), the personnel had missed the signs that Nos. 492 and 347 were ready for their annual trim. As a result, when they left the cage and the workers couldn’t approach close enough without spooking them, they actually fled the coop. They lingered near the zoo for a week before disappearing for good on July 4. They instantly split, which is unusual because flamingos prefer companionship. No. 347 flew north to Michigan and was never seen again, implying that it did not survive the winter.
No. 492, on the other hand, found a more suited environment in Texas and even connected up with a Caribbean flamingo carried in by a hurricane. This couple has been making the rounds for many years, but they haven’t been sighted together since 2013. No. 492, sometimes known as Pink Floyd by Texas authorities, reappears every few years. It was last seen in 2019, also off the coast of Texas, although it has also been spotted in Wisconsin and Louisiana in the past.
In 2007, zoo authorities stated that they would not be attempting to recover No. 492, whose sex is unknown due to the lack of DNA testing at the time of its escape. “There simply isn’t a simple method to recapture the bird,” a zoo official remarked. It would only disturb wildlife where it has been discovered and may cause more harm to the bird than simply leaving him alone.”
As a result, No. 492 continues to enjoy a free life and may do so for many years to come. Flamingos may live for up to 40 years in the wild. Let’s hope the flamingo has a good spring in Texas and continues to thrive.
This African flamingo was discovered in Texas seventeen years after fleeing from a Kansas zoo.