A Florida man who sparked worldwide outrage after being accused of causing the death of Pinky, a popular dancing flamingo at Busch Gardens, has been fatally struck by a truck two months before he was set to go on trial.
Joseph Corrao, 48, was killed June 5 as he crossed a busy road near his home in Orlando, the Tampa Bay Times reported, citing the Florida Highway Patrol.
He gained notoriety during a visit to the amusement park in Tampa with his mother and daughters in August 2016, when he reached into the Jambo Junction animal viewing area and picked up the 15-year-old Chilean flamingo.
Officials said he violently threw Pinky, one of the theme park’s animal ambassadors, to the ground, badly injuring her and causing one of her legs to be nearly severed.
Corrao later told authorities he was just trying to show off to his daughter, claiming he didn’t mean to injure the bird, and apologized when he learned she had to be euthanized.
He was charged with animal cruelty, jailed for five days and released on bail.
Word of Pinky’s death enraged animal lovers, who created online petitions calling for stiffer penalties for animal abusers and demanding “Justice for Pinky.”
Corrao also was previously arrested on felony animal cruelty charges for shooting his neighbor’s two dogs, according to WTSP.
A judge had ordered two psychologists to examine Corrao, whose public defender had raised concerns about his mental health.
One psychologist found that Corrao suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, according to the Tampa Bay Times, which cited court documents.
The other agreed with the schizophrenia diagnosis, and both said Corrao was incompetent to face trial.
The judge ordered him to undergo in-home competency restoration training, to abstain from drinking alcohol and to continue taking his medication.
Corrao was declared competent in March and a trial date was set for August.
After his death, prosecutors last week filed a formal notice that they had dropped the criminal charge.
In 2011, Pinky became an internet sensation when the park published a video of her dancing the “Flamingo Flamenco.”
“Pinky liked to dance and when she was getting the attention she wanted, she would start dancing in circles,” Busch Gardens’ then-spokeswoman Karen Varga-Sinka said at the time.
“She was the sweetest thing.”
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