Two Flamingos Dead, College Student Arrested After Prank Goes Awry

Two Chilean flamingos were stolen from the Hattiesburg Zoo in Hattiesburg, Mississippi early Tuesday morning in what police are calling a college prank gone horribly wrong. The birds later died of their injuries, and a suspect has been charged with grand larceny and is banned from his college campus.

According to the Hattiesburg American, freshman Devin Nottis of Pascagoula, Mississippi, was sent to the zoo as part of a scavenger hunt, which was itself a part of the pledging process for the Delta Mu chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at the University of Mississippi (USM). 19-year-old Nottis was supposed to just take a picture of the flamingos, but instead took one of the actual birds. The bird, a female, was found a few miles away, and had to be euthanized because of her injuries. Her mate, a male back at the zoo, sustained injuries defending her, and he, too, was put down.

Hattiesburg police spokesman Lt. Jon Traxler told the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald that the pledge has been charged with grand larceny. Further, USM Vice President for Student Affairs Joe Paul issued a statement denouncing the flamingo prank.

“We are not taking this situation lightly… The university is taking swift and appropriate action in response to this incident. This is a terrible and heinous act that has occurred, and inconsistent with the values of our institution.”

Mr. Nottis is suspended indefinitely from USM, meaning that he is banned from the campus except to attend hearings related to his suspension. His fraternity is also suspended and the fraternity’s national organization has suspended the USM chapter’s charter. The Hattiesburg Police Department says that at least nine other members of the fraternity are being investigated, and more charges may be coming.

“When the case is finished, it will be presented to the grand jury to determine if any indictments will be handed down. I have been told that if indicted, the suspects would be charged with conspiracy.”

According to Bio Expedition, Chilean Flamingos are social creatures that live in colonies of thousands. They mate for life, and when the mate of one bird dies, they will often not take another mate.

This is the time of year when college pranks often make the news as college fraternities, sororities, and often sports teams put their new members through initiation rituals, sometimes referred to as “hazing,” as a requirement to join the group. These pranks range from the mildly embarrassing to the criminal and deadly; recently Miss America Kira Kazantsev admitted to being banned from her college sorority for being involved in a hazing incident, according to this Inquisitr report.

What punishment do you believe the men involved in the flamingo prank deserve? Let us know in the comments below.

[Image courtesy of: National Geographic]

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