A man is behind bars after his alleged "depraved," "senseless" actions led to the death of a beloved animal at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
While visiting the Florida park with his mother, brother and three teenage children, 45-year-old Orlando resident Joseph Corrao grabbed Pinky, the Dancing Flamingo, and slammed her to the ground, according to WFLA.
"I was over by where the eagle enclosure was," said Amy Wallace, who at the park with her husband and young children, reported WFTS. "I heard a lot of screaming. I looked over and saw the guy holding a flamingo above his head, shaking it violently screaming, 'I got one, I got another one.’ Bird just flattened out, just like an egg. Splattered on the ground with its wings out and it started going into tremors."
Veterinarians at Busch Gardens were unable to treat the bird’s severe injuries and had to euthanize the almost 20-year-old flamingo.
"I'm very sad," said Amy's 5-year-old son, Anthony. "That guy threw the flamingo down and that was my favorite flamingo."
SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the parent company of Busch Gardens, said the company will pursue prosecution against Corrao.
"SeaWorld will strongly urge prosecution in this case, and for any person who engages in this sort of cruel behavior towards animals," wrote Joel Manby, president and CEO of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. "Pinky was a beloved member of the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay family, and she will be sorely missed. 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."
As an animal ambassador, Pinky visited sites throughout the area to promote conservation and education. According to a spokesperson for Busch Gardens, Pinky performed for school groups, national television programs, media appearances and numerous guests.
Corrao is facing charges of aggravated cruelty to animals. He is being held in a Tampa jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.
"It’s beyond senseless," Judge John Conrad told Corrao. "It actually borders on depraved, in my opinion. I don't know if you have other issues, but I don't know who does that."
Corrao previously served three years behind bars for animal cruelty and assaulting a person over the age of 65. He was convicted of killing his neighbor’s dog in 2013.