A “sweet” king pigeon named Flamingo died just a week after he was rescued from a New York City park, the animal rescue Wild Bird Fund announced on Twitter earlier this week.
The domesticated bird, which was “likely raised for food” and “had no survival skills,” had been dyed pink before being released into the wild, the organization said.
“We believe his death was caused by inhaling the toxins,” Wild Bird Fund wrote.
The rescue group told HuffPost via email that it does not know who dyed and released the bird or why they did it.
“Many of our followers guessed gender reveal, but it could have been another kind of ceremony, an art stunt, we don’t know,” the group said.
Flamingo, who was “a baby, barely older than fledging,” was found “malnourished” in the city’s Madison Square Park by Carlos Rodrigues, a dog walker who regularly works with the organization, Wild Bird Fund told HuffPost.
The rescue noted that it believes Flamingo was purchased from a poultry market as opposed to being a pet due to “stress bars on his feathers” — or lines that run across the width of a feather, which can indicate that the bird was stressed, sick or not receiving adequate nutrition during feather development.
The group said that once Flamingo was under its care, it did everything it could to remove the dye.
“We tried a variety of methods … including mayo, Dawn, baking soda and lemon juice,” Wild Bird Fund told HuffPost. “We had to do this very sparingly because handling and bathing is stressful for a bird, especially one in a weakened state.”
Wild Bird Fund told HuffPost it was sharing Flamingo’s story “in the interest of discouraging the release of domestic birds and dyeing of birds generally.”
“Even without the added complication of the toxic dye, he would not have survived in a city park as a white, helpless bird,” it noted on Twitter.
The fund told HuffPost that releasing any domesticated bird into the wild is always a bad idea.
“Many supposedly trained homing birds will still get lost, starve or be preyed on,” the rescue group told HuffPost.
It also noted on Twitter that releasing “doves” or white pigeons for weddings is also putting the animals at risk.
“‘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,” the organization wrote. “This is no way to celebrate anything.”