A pink-feathered pigeon found in a New York park has passed away after being reportedly dyed for a “gender reveal party.”
The king pigeon, which is never naturally pink, was rescued from Madison Square Park in Manhattan. According to the Wild Bird Fund, who facilitated the rescue, the male bird was “deliberately dyed and released.”
“Pigeons come in many different colours and plumages but pink isn’t one of them,” a spokesperson said. Speaking to ABC7 News, they added: “This poor bird has it bad enough as a domestic bird unable to find food in the wild, fly well, or escape predators, but being a bright, unusual color makes him even more of a target.”
The bird was picked up by a passerby, and was later discovered to be suffering from long-term malnutrition.
‘Flamingo’ the pigeon passes away
On February 7, the group confirmed that the pigeon, who they called Flamingo, had lost his life.
“We are deeply sad to report that Flamingo, our sweet pink pigeon, has passed away. Despite our best efforts to reduce the fumes coming off the dye, while keeping him calm and stable, he died in the night,” Wild Bird Fund wrote on Twitter. “We believe his death was caused by inhaling the toxins.”
Speaking to Plant Based News (PBN) after Flamingo’s rescue and before his subsequent death, Wild Bird Fund was weary of the potential effects of the pink dye.
While the dyed feathers would have eventually molted out, the group were “concerned about the harmful effects of the strong odor/fumes coming off the dye in the meantime. Birds are very sensitive to fumes,” a spokesperson said to PBN.
‘Act of careless cruelty’
The spokesperson also revealed that Flamingo had stress bars on his feathers, meaning he was likely purchased from a poultry market. Experts said the bird was “little more than a baby,” and had probably never flown.
On Twitter, the organization noted that due to his age and lack of survival skills, he would not have survived in the city park “even without the added complication of the toxic dye.”
“Domestic birds — birds raised in captivity — should never be released to the wild. They will die of starvation or predation … ‘Dove releases’ sound romantic, but take away the decorations and Instagram photos, and they are the equivalent of dumping your helpless pets on the side of the road. This is no way to celebrate anything,” Wild Bird Fund said.
The group also said that “Flamingo’s story sparked a lot of emotion and generated interest from around the world. We hope the tale of his too-short life will help prevent more acts of careless cruelty.”
“Rest in peace, sweet bird.”
Animals abused for gender reveal parties
Some prospective parents choose to host “gender reveal parties,” which see them announce the sex of the soon-to-be arrival.
Such parties have sparked controversy in the past, due to elaborate, and sometimes dangerous and cruel, reveal methods.
In September 2022, Freedom Farm Animal Rescue in New Jersey confirmed it had taken in a number of pigeons dyed pink for gender reveal parties.
“Animals are not props or decorations,” the organization said on Instagram. “These domestic young white pigeons don’t have a clue how to survive out in the wild and would’ve been picked off by predators had they not been saved.”
This article was originally published on February 7, 2023. It was last updated on February 9 to include the news that Flamingo had passed away.