This year continues to be a dark one for animals (as well as humanity). On Tuesday, Busch Gardens in Tampa lost their beloved “ambassador animal” Pinky after she was grabbed and thrown to the ground by a park visitor.
The AP reports that a man named Joseph Anthony Corrao reached into her pen, handled her violently and threw her. His two sons were with him. Veterinarians at the park were forced to euthanize Pinky after her injuries were deemed too serious for recovery. One witness said that her foot was nearly severed.
Carrao was detained by Busch Gardens security, then arrested by the Tampa police for animal cruelty. He has previously committed aggravated assault on someone 65 years or older, been convicted of fleeing law enforcement, and landed a DUI. He was released early on Wednesday after paying a $2,000 bond.
This insane strangulation of an animal who is mostly neck and who was known primarily as a beautiful dancer is a brutal loss for the Gardens, and frankly, all of us. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Jambo Junction pen where she was kept is partially open, allowing visitors to approach the birds, though they generally run away.
Pinky was a Chilean flamingo, hatched at the Gardens in 1996. Her dancing was a natural behavior exhibited by flamingoes as a way to stir food to the top of muddy waters. She did it frequently for guests. In a statement, the park’s spokeswoman Karen Varga-Sinka said:
“Pinky was a beloved member of the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay family and made many appearances on behalf of the park’s conservation and education efforts... She will be sorely missed.”
May Pinky dance on clouds of tasty brine shrimp morsels in heaven.