Busch Gardens' Popular Dancing Flamingo Euthanized Following Attack

August 4, 2016
Jared Kaltwasser

A Chilean flamingo that became famous for its dancing was euthanized this week after a brutal attack by a theme park guest.

A popular “dancing” flamingo known for entertaining guests at Tampa’s Busch Gardens was euthanized this week after it was attacked by a theme park visitor.

The flamingo, known as “Pinky,” became a fan favorite for its quick-step spinning, which fans likened to flamenco dancing. The 19-year-old Chilean flamingo also became a YouTube sensation, amassing more than a half-million views, as of Thursday morning.

The bird was attacked on Tuesday, according to Tampa police. The Associated Press reports that a man, identified as 45-year-old Joseph Anthony Corrao of Orlando, was visiting the park with his family when he began harassing birds in the Jambo Junction area of the park. When the man’s mother told him to leave the birds alone, Corrao allegedly responded by slamming Pinky down on the ground and nearly severing the bird’s foot.

The bird had to be euthanized due to the extent of the injuries, officials said.

Corrao was detained by park security officers and then arrested by Tampa police, according to the AP. Corrao has a history of violent behavior — he served three years in prison for aggravated assault, felony DUI, and fleeing from a law enforcement officer.

During a court hearing on Wednesday, Judge John Conrad said Corrao’s behavior “borders on depraved.”

“Mr. Corrao, I don’t know if you have other issues,” the judge said, according to the AP. “I don’t know who does that. I really don’t. I don’t relate to that on any level.”

Meanwhile, park officials and fans shared tributes to Pinky.

“Pinky was a beloved member of the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay family, and she will be sorely missed,” said Joel Manby, president and CEO of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the parent company of Busch Gardens. “Our Ambassador team members are appalled by this incident, and I am sure they share my view that our state must have a zero-tolerance policy for this kind of cruelty.”

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said people who abuse animals should face serious legal consequences.

“People who abuse animals often don’t stop there, and pose a violent risk to the rest of society,” Pacelle said. “That’s why we’ve worked to fortify the legal framework across the country to punish malicious animal cruelty as a serious offense.”

As of Wednesday, Corrao was in jail on a $5,000 bond and facing a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.

Image and Video: Busch Gardens Tampa/Sea World Parks and Entertainment