Photos: Busch Gardens, HCSO
TAMPA (FOX 13) - A witness says the man who attacked a flock of flamingoes at Busch Gardens was laughing as he grabbed one of the park's beloved birds and threw her to the ground, fatally wounding the flamingo as stunned visitors scrambled to stop him.
Tampa police say Joseph Corrao of Orlando was at the park with his mother, brother, and three teenage kids Tuesday evening when he reached into a Jambo Junction corral and grabbed one of the flamingoes. He put it down, but then allegedly grabbed a second bird.
"He was loud and obnoxious, screaming, 'I got it! I got another one,' while shaking the flamingo up over his head before he violently slammed the flamingo to the ground," Amy Lech Wallace told FOX 13 News. "He also laughed out loud after he slammed the flamingo to the ground."
The startling assault left the flamingo pen in chaos as a vet tech -- in tears -- cradled the wounded bird, later identified as 19-year-old 'Pinky.'
Meanwhile, Wallace said, park visitors chased after Corrao and his family, who appeared to be trying to leave.
"After he injured the second flamingo, the mother grabbed him by his arm and tried to rush him out of the area," she recalled. "My husband and another man actually ran after him and told him to stop, kind of containing him in one area until security could get there."
Corrao, 45, was arrested on a charge of felony animal cruelty but later bonded out of jail.
Pinky, though, had to be euthanized, prompting the CEO of Busch Gardens' parent company to call for full prosecution.
"Pinky was a beloved member of the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay family, and she will be sorely missed," said Joel Manby, president and CEO of SeaWorld. "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."
Wallace said her family was visiting the park from Manatee County to celebrate her daughter's birthday. The attack happened in front of her young son, leaving him in tears.
"I raise my children to respect all living beings, including animals as well as humans," Wallace continued. "So he's having a hard time understanding why someone would do something like that."
"I've never witnessed such an evil act of animal cruelty," she added.