INDIAN SHORES, Fla. (WFLA) — Out of all the avian residents at the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, one of them has a room all to its own — Peaches, the flamingo. It likely had quite the journey to the sanctuary in Indian Shores.
“The ones that are currently in our area, they believe they actually were from the Yucatán Peninsula,” said Melissa Edwards, the sanctuary’s Avian Hospital Director. “And were flying into Cuba to kind of begin their breeding season.”
She said Peaches, like so many flamingos in Florida, washed up with the hurricane.
“Upon arrival, it was just very weak, exhausted and what we call quiet,” Edwards explained. “So just not totally acting normal, definitely appeared exhausted.”
You would be too if you were blown from your home in Mexico to St. Pete Beach during a hurricane.
“You could tell that [it] was distressed,” said Madeira Beach Commissioner Anne-Marie Brooks in District 4.
“As we came up on the bird, it did try to fly,” said Brooks. “Which is when we knew that it could not save itself, it would not be able to swim out.”
So when Brooks and a group surveying the hurricane’s damage saw the flamingo in the Gulf of Mexico off St. Pete Beach, they scooped it up.
“Having the opportunity to assist in rescuing any animal,” Brooks said. “It’s very exhilarating and it’s fun to be a part of.”
Brooks and the others nicknamed the bird, which is now resting and recovering at the sanctuary.
“Thankfully, as of now, he’s eating on his own,” Edwards said. “His activity levels have increased really nicely, so all really good progress towards release.”
Edwards said the flamingos in the region could be here for a while too, especially if they continue to find food.
“It’s unclear how long they’re going to be in our area,” Edwards said. “It could be quite a few months, it could be next day, they could decide they want to turn around and go home, so really unsure at this point.”
As for Peaches, it should be released into the wild within a week.