PHOTO: Flamingos Seek Refuge in Bathroom During Hurricane Ian

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

While Hurricane Ian passed through Florida this week, the flamingos at St. Petersburg’s Sunken Gardens enjoyed a “party” in the ladies’ room.

The 100-year-old “living museum,” which is known for its band of pink birds that roam its botanical gardens took to Instagram on Thursday to let everyone know how the flamingos were surviving the storm.

To escape the winds and falling debris, the Sunken Gardens staff herded the birds into a facility restroom. There they stayed—joined by some tortoises—until the storm passed.

“We’re hunkered down and hoping for the best for all in hurricane Ian’s path-including all the animals,” the gardens wrote. “Our flamingos, tortoises, and other exotic birds are safe and sound with staff on-site to monitor them throughout the storm.”

“The flamingos are having quite the hurricane party; eating, drinking, and dancing while the Brazilian red-footed tortoises love to snuggle on their way to larger indoor accommodations,” they added.

Along with the update, the establishment included a series of three pictures. In one, the flamboyance huddles around a bathroom stall while snacking. The other snapshots show the staff loading the restrooms with the creatures.

Sunken Garden Director Shares Story Behind Viral Hurricane Ian Photo

The photo of the Chilean flamingos quickly went viral, presumably because it was a rare positive image in the midst of one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States.

“It was just mainly for our members and folks that follow us. It’s gone all over the country,” supervising director Dwayne Biggs told the Tampa Bay Tribune.

The Sunken Gardens staff always ushers its animals into a different on-site hurricane-proof building when major storms hit the area. But Biggs said that Ian posed a higher-than-normal risk. So he decided they needed a stronger building for protection.

“Actually [the bathroom is] pretty close to what you would design for an animal-holding overnight facility,” he noted. “And it was the perfect size for our 21 flamingos.”

As one picture highlighted, transporting the flamingos took special care. Because of their delicate legs, staff had to use a “special technique” that tucks the legs “underneath” while they “kind of cuddle them.”

Biggs was in charge of looking after the flamingos as the storms raged. He shared that they all fared well in the process. And now that Hurricane Ian has moved on, he’s thrilled that the flamingos ended up giving people a smile.

“I‘m glad we posted that,” he added. “It’s kind of provided a little bit of breath of air here after this storm.”