Community responds to flamingo losses

In the wake of the recent death of two Chilean flamingos from the Hattiesburg Zoo due to a fraternity prank, the Hattiesburg community and beyond has responded to the need of the Hattiesburg Zoo and begun to raise funds to replace the rare birds.

According to the Hattiesburg American, the female of the two was severely injured when, during a fraternity tradition gone wrong, she was stolen from zoo property and injured severely enough to be euthanized when found the following morning several miles away. The male, believed to be her mate, was injured during the act of the theft and died the next day.

The community has risen in response to the tragedy and are conducting several flamingo-themed fundraisers to raise money to purchase two new birds. This breed can be quite expensive:  The original flock of 21 were purchased from Zoo Atlanta, at a steep price of $1,700 for each adult flamingo and $1,200 for juveniles.

According to its Facebook page, on Oct. 9, downtown restaurant Vicki’s on Walnut created a special “Pink Flamingo” cocktail to be sold for $5, with full proceeds from the drink going to the fundraising efforts. The beverage was a smash hit, raising $500 in a one-night engagement.

On Wednesday, Oct. 15, local business Painting with a Twist held a special painting benefit that donated half the night’s proceeds toward the cause. 

With the guidance of a local professional painter, 10 amateur artists painted two 

flamingos against a color-washed background. The night was a success, providing joy to the event’s attendees and raising $200 for the zoo.

These efforts have gone further than Hattiesburg, with an upcoming “Croquet for a Cause” event being planned at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. According to the Eventbrite page, this event will be hosted by the Laughing Flamingo Croquet Club and will occur on Nov. 22 at noon to 3 p.m. The event is described as “an afternoon of croquet, good food, and good people,” with all proceeds going to benefit the Hattiesburg Zoo.

Many students find the community outreach to be encouraging and want to bolster the endeavors of those who wish to help the zoo.

Roland Hutto, a senior marine biology major, said he loves the zoo and that with support like this from the locals, the zoo will be able to entertain and educate for a long time. “The support shown by the fundraising efforts of the community is encouraging by far,” he said.  “It shows that the community cares about the values and the service that the zoo provides.”

Caitlin Nash, a sophomore business administration major, said she is happy about the outpouring of support for the zoo. 

“I’m glad the community is doing these fundraisers,” she said. “It shows how supportive (the community) is of the zoo and that they don’t support (Nottis’ actions).”

If one is interested in donating to the Hattiesburg Zoo, one can send checks made out to The Hattiesburg Zoo, with a note about the flamingos. Mail the check to the Hattiesburg Zoo, 107 S. 17th Ave., Hattiesburg, MS 39401. If one needs more information, call 601.545.4576, email zoo@hattiesburg.org or check out its Facebook page for future updates.

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