The cheery light Pinky brought to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, has been extinguished too soon.
On Tuesday, the flamingo, known for her adorable dancing, was euthanized by Busch Gardens veterinarians after being severely injured by a visitor to the park, reports The Associated Press.
According to a police report, 45-year-old Joseph Anthony Corrao of Orlando was visiting the park on Tuesday with his mother and three teenage children when he started picking up flamingos in the Jambo Junction area. After Corrao’s mother told him to leave the birds alone, the man decided to reach into Pinky’s pen, grab the bird by the neck and violently throw her to the ground in front of his family.
The assault nearly severed the bird’s foot and left Pinky with traumatic injuries she could not recover from.
“A very sad and hard day for us here,” said a park spokesperson, Karen Varga-Sinka.
Park officers detained Corrao; he was later arrested by Tampa police. On Wednesday, Corrao appeared in court in front of Judge John Conrad.
“It actually borders on depraved,” the judge told Corrao. “Mr. Corrao, I don’t know if you have other issues. I don’t know who does that, I really don’t. I don’t relate to that on any level.”
The judge ordered Corrao to Hillborough County Jail to be held on a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals. Prior to this incident, Corrao has served three years at a Florida prison for aggravated assault on a person 65 years or older, felony DUI, and fleeing from a law enforcement officer.
Pinky was born at Busch Gardens in 1996. The 19-year-old Chilean flamingo lived with 19 other flamingos, but set herself apart from the pink crowd with her entertaining spirit.
“Pinky loved to dance for our guests,” said Varga-Sinka. “Her keepers say that this is not a trained behavior, but a natural behavior 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 behavior out of the water for guests.”
Busch Gardens is devastated by the loss of one of its animal ambassadors and says Pinky will be sorely missed.