More Suspects in Hot Water Over Flamingo Death

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There are more charges to come in what Hattiesburg Police is calling a prank gone wrong. Fraternity brothers from the University of Southern Mississippi, broke into the Hattiesburg Zoo during a scavenger hunt to take a picture of a flaming, and ended up stealing the bird instead, resulting in its death.

On Wednesday night, police say six members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at U.S.M. broke into the zoo, stealing one Chilean flamingo. So far, Devin Nottis of Pascagoula has been arrested and charged with animal cruelty and grand larceny, while nine other suspects are facing conspiracy charges.

Mark Lasalle, the Director of the Pascagoula Audubon Center, says it makes sense why they chose a flamingo. Lasalle says, "I have two plastic flamingos in my yard, okay, and they’re just iconic, they’re beautiful, they are so different looking, they feed differently, everyone since a child knows a flamingo.”

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According to the zoo, the suspects harmed another flamingo, who was trying to protect its mate, causing it to die from heartache and its injuries. Lasalle also says, "You know, when they are in a situation like a zoo, they’re used to each other, that’s their buddy, okay, whether they are a mated pair or not, but when you separate them, there is anxiety no different than we are in humans, so that’s a stress in itself."

Lasalle says people need to become more aware of the laws protecting birds in our country, and he thinks the grand larceny charge is fitting for the case because of the seriousness of the crime. Lasalle closes, "You know youth, is what it amounts to and not paying attention, and not really understanding that animals are protected, first of all, and that should be respected. Taking an animal out of its habitat, whether it’s in a zoo or anywhere else, is just something you shouldn’t do."

After the bird was returned to the zoo, it had to be euthanized.