On a day when the future feels overwhelmingly and devastatingly bleak, one must seek out sources of hope in unexpected places. Enter No. 492, an African flamingo, a “zoo fugitive,” a resilient queen, and an inspiration to all.
According to the , it was exactly 13 years ago that No. 492 and their close pal, Flamingo No. 347, bravely escaped a Kansas zoo on a “very windy day” and never looked back. Once the two Tanzania-born flamingos celebrated their liberation, though, they decided to go their separate ways. And while it is believed that No. 347 passed away during a bitter Michigan winter (RIP), No. 492 is living their best life in Texas.
But No. 492 didn’t immediately adjust to their new, unfamiliar home. After losing their dear friend No. 347, they were understandably lonely in Texas, where none of the other animals looked like them. But then, in a twist of fate that will make audiences cry when this story is inevitably made into a movie, No. 492 encountered a lost Caribbean flamingo in the wild.
While Scott Newland, the curator of birds at the zoo from which No. 492 escaped, could be bitter, he’s instead able to recognize how moving this story is.
“Even though they’re two different species, they are enough alike that they would have been more than happy to see each other,” he told the Times. “They’re two lonely birds in kind of a foreign habitat. They’re not supposed to be there, so they have stayed together because there’s a bond.”
And though the couple hasn’t been spotted together since 2013, they know the other is still out there — it’s beautiful, really. Fingers crossed that they one day meet their allies: the runaway red panda and the runaway octopus.