HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (AP) — Hattiesburg residents are helping replace two Chilean flamingos from the Hattiesburg Zoo that died last week when one of the birds was taken during a fraternity scavenger hunt.
Rick Taylor, executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention and Tourism Commission, tells WDAM-TV that some people have already made substantial donations to buy new birds to replace the male and female who died as a result of the incident.
A student at Southern Miss allegedly took one of the female flamingos that was later found outside the zoo, but had to be euthanized because of injuries. A male flamingo, apparently injured in the same incident, also died. Devin Nottis, 19, of Pascagoula, faces charges of grand larceny and animal cruelty in connection with the theft.
Taylor said the zoo is not officially soliciting donations, but is accepting them. He said the money will help replace the lost flamingos and build up the flock.
“We started with 22 flamingos, four of which were female,” said Taylor. “We lost one of the females in this incident last week. But, you really need a minimum of 20 birds for them to want to nest and begin to breed and reproduce. And we’re below that number, so we do need to acquire a few more to get that number back up.”
Taylor said two other flamingos died earlier of natural causes. He also said the zoo has already taken steps to improve security at the two-year-old exhibit, including adding new cameras. He said new fencing will also be coming soon.
To donate, contact the Hattiesburg Zoo at 601-545-4576 or email the zoo at firstname.lastname@example.org