17 years ago, a huge storm hit Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas allowing two African flamingos to escape. On March 29th, the Coastal Fisheries division of Texas Parks and Wildlife confirmed that they had spotted one of these birds.
Over a decade on the lam can change a bird. Luckily, this flamingo had a handy leg band sporting the number 492, which is also it’s name. The bird was caught on video on March 10 by an environmental activist near Port Lavaca, Texas. Local Parks and Wildlife were able to make out the number from the footage.
No. 492 was a part of a group of 40 flamingos that came to the zoo from Africa in 2004. Since No. 492 and his partner had not had their wings clipped yet, when that storm hit in June 2005, they made a break for it.
Sadly, the other flamingo has never been seen again. 492 has several sightings in Wisconsin, Louisiana, and now Texas. Sometimes this bird is solo, other times, it’s been hanging out with wild flamingos. But this has been the first sighting of the escaped bird in a year or two.
Despite all the reports, there are no plans to trap or return the bird to the Sedgwick County Zoo.
“There really isn’t an easy way to recapture the bird. It would only disturb wildlife where it’s been found and possibly could do more damage to the bird than just leaving him alone,” Zoo Spokeswoman Christan Baumer said.
The zoo did look for the escaped birds at first, but it has been sometime now. And since flamingos are social animals, it’s believed placing 492 back in the zoo may be too much. This leaves wildlife officials in Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Texas with a much cuter version of Where’s Waldo.