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‘Pinky’ the dancing flamingo killed after theme park visitor throws her ‘violently’ to the ground

Joseph Anthony Corrao was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty after throwing to the ground Pinky, a flamingo at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla.
(Busch Gardens / Tampa Police Department)

Pinky, a 19-year-old dancing Chilean flamingo at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla., had to be euthanized Tuesday after being thrown to the ground by a 45-year-old Orlando man, according to Tampa police.

Joseph Anthony Corrao, 45, was at the park with his family in the Jambo Junction Animal Viewing area at about 6:45 p.m. when he reached into the animal pen, grabbed Pinky and threw her to the ground, police said.

Pinky was taken to the animal care center, but had to be euthanized because of the severity of her injuries, Busch Gardens said in a statement.

“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,” a spokeswoman for Busch Gardens said in a statement. “She will be sorely missed.”

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She was well-known for her dancing, which her keepers said was “not a trained behavior, but a natural behavior she loved to show off.”

Dubbed the “Flamingo Flamenco” dancer, Pinky would stomp her feet while turning in a circle. A video of the dance posted to YouTube has nearly 200,000 views.

Pinky, who would have turned 20 next month, started dancing at about age 2.

“While making an appearance with Jack Hanna, the team noticed that she was dancing on her own to get attention,” said Busch Gardens spokeswoman Karen Varga-Sinka. “Since then, she has danced for countless guests, school groups, media appearances and national television shows.”

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It’s not clear why Corrao picked the flamingo up, but several patrons saw him throw her down “violently,” a Tampa police spokesman said.

Corrao was arrested and charged with animal cruelty and taken to jail on a $2,000 bond.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Corrao served two years in prison for willfully fleeing and eluding law enforcement; driving under the influence, third conviction; and aggravated assault of a person 65 years or older, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. The charges were out of Columbia County in north Florida. Corrao was released last year.

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Harris writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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