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Lost and found: A flamingo, in New York

By Chiara Atik

On the Monday before Halloween, naturalist Chris Evers took a canoe out on Lake Kitchawan, New York, in the hopes of photographing some migratory birds. What he found instead was something a little more exotic: a pink flamingo.

Chris Evers holds the flamingo that he spotted while photographing migratory birds on Lake Kitchawan, New York. Animal Embassy LLC

“I couldn’t believe it was an actual flamingo, here in Pound Ridge, New York,” Evers told TODAY.

Luckily for the flamingo, Evers happens to be an experienced wildlife handler and Founder of Animal Embassy, a company that specializes in rescuing exotic animals. He quickly ascertained that the bird had probably escaped from a local zoo, and hadn’t merely been blown off-course. (This particular flamingo, Evers later learned, was a Lesser flamingo, which is native to Africa, making its presence on a North American lake in November even more incredible.)

Although there are species of flamingo native to the Americas, this species resides in Africa and in southern Asia. Animal Embassy LLC

Most people, finding themselves alone in a canoe, on a lake with a pink flamingo, would have slowly paddled back to shore and called for help. Not Chris Evers.

“I thought about how to go about catching him. I could try to grab him, or, I could pick up my trusty fishing rod and see if I could lasso his legs.”

Lassoing a large bird with a fishing rod can’t be easy or intuitive, but Evers summoned his inner cowboy and did it on his first try.

“I certainly didn’t want to hurt him. Luckily, the bird got tangled just around his legs. He obviously was distressed and tried to fly away, but I managed to reel the guy into the boat.”

Holding the bird with one arm and paddling with the other, he made it back to shore and up to his house.

“As I was walking back up to my house, I was thinking ‘What am I gonna do with this bird?' I realized the only remotely safe place to place a bird was my bathtub. I put some water in the tub, carefully placed the bird in, and called my staff.”

The rescued flamingo waits in photographer Chris Evers' bathtub as he tries to arrange for the bird to be reunited with its owner. Animal Embassy LLC

With the help of the Animal Embassy staff, Evers was able to track down the bird’s facility and contact its owners.

“I called them and I said ‘I believe I have your flamingo in my bathtub.’ And the woman said, ‘excuse me?’ 'I think I have your flamingo in the bathtub, are you missing a flamingo?’”

Within two hours, the flamingo was returned to its nearby captive flock, leaving Evers with an unoccupied bathtub and one heck of a story.

“I knew I was looking for unusual birds for the season, but no way was I expecting it was going to be a flamingo!”

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