A pigeon named Flamingo is dead after someone dyed it pink
The bright pink bird won supporters beyond New York City as people hoped the young king pigeon, dubbed Flamingo, would survive its ordeal of being dyed with chemicals and then released into the wild.
But it was not to be: The Wild Bird Fund rescue group said on Tuesday that Flamingo died roughly a week after a rescuer found him in Manhattan's Madison Square Park.
"We don't know why this bird was dyed pink, although many of our followers have speculated that it was for a gender reveal party," Catherine Quayle, social media director of the Wild Bird Fund, told NPR.
"We believe his death was caused by inhaling the toxins" from suspected hair dye, the group said, adding that birds are highly sensitive to some fumes. Noting that Flamingo was weak and malnourished, the group said he also struggled to keep food down — a potential side effect of ingesting chemicals through preening his pink feathers.
The group also reiterated its plea for people not to release domestic animals into the wild as a prop in their celebrations, stating, "They have no survival instincts and will starve or be preyed on."
" 'Dove releases' sound romantic, but take away the decorations and Instagram photos, and they are the equivalent of dumping your helpless pets on the side of the road," the group said. "This is no way to celebrate anything."
The Wild Bird Fund operates out of the Upper West Side, where it cares for birds and other wildlife that are hurt, sick or orphaned in New York City. Each year it gets dozens of king pigeons, domestic birds that are naturally all white, Quayle said.
Turning to Flamingo's case, she added, "King pigeons are naturally all-white, although we occasionally receive one with a small amount of dye or paint. This situation was a first."
"We have been overwhelmed by messages of concern and goodwill for this poor bird," Quayle said, praising the compassion of people in New York and beyond who have shared messages of support.
"As sad as we are that Flamingo did not get the chance to live a full life in a sanctuary or home, we're heartened that his story has reached so many around the world," Quayle said. "We hope fewer birds will suffer from careless cruelty as a result."
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