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Man accused in killing of Pinky, Busch Gardens flamingo, found incompetent

Joseph Corrao said little at Friday’s hearing. Another hearing is set for March 22.
Joseph Corrao said little at Friday’s hearing. Another hearing is set for March 22.
Published Feb. 18, 2017

TAMPA — A man accused of fatally injuring Pinky, the Busch Gardens flamingo made famous through her dancing videos, is too mentally ill to go to trial, a judge declared Friday.

Two doctors examined Joseph Corrao in recent weeks, concluding that the 45-year-old is incompetent to proceed toward trial on a charge of aggravated animal cruelty.

Neither doctor was in court Friday morning. But Hillsborough Circuit Judge Tom Barber ordered that they should both appear at a future court date to discuss their findings and treatment options to restore Corrao to competency.

"I want to have some options that day and on that day I want to make a decision on his placement," Barber said.

Corrao, who's free on bond, attended the brief hearing, but said little.

On Aug. 2, he was at Busch Gardens with his family when he reached into an animal pen, grabbed Pinky and threw her to the ground, according to police. The bird's leg was nearly severed. She was later euthanized.

The flamingo had served as one of the theme park's animal ambassadors. Her death generated outrage across Tampa Bay.

In videos posted on YouTube, Busch Gardens described Pinky as unusual in that she "loves to dance for our guests!" Flamingos do a dancing move in the water to stir up food but Pinky demonstrated the behavior for park guests even out of the water.

The exact nature of Corrao's mental illness was not detailed in Friday's court hearing. Barber scheduled the next hearing for March 22.

Contact Dan Sullivan at (813) 226-3386