The flamingos at Hialeah Park Racing and Casino may be some of the city's most famous residents. The flock, which dates back to 1934, is so iconic that it appears as one of the first images in the opening of the credits to Miami Vice and inspired the design of the Florida Lottery's logo. In fact, the park's infield has officially been deemed a sanctuary by the National Audubon Society.
Well, the flock was devastated last week after someone stole 45 to 50 newly hatched chicks from the park. Literally, all the young chicks had been taken.
The incident happened sometime between 7 p.m. last Monday and 7 a.m. the next morning. Investigators found no evidence of an attack by a natural predator and assume it must have been a theft. However, no other damage or tire tracks were found.
Flamingos can for anywhere from $500 to $1,000 each on the black market.
"The exotic pet trade is a problem," Jorge Pino of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told Local 10. "It's a very profitable thing to be involved in if you're a thief."
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Despite not being native to Florida, flamingos have become an icon of the state. When we asked readers to pick new symbols for a hypothetical state of South Florida, the flamingo won the state bird category by a landslide. The Hialeah Park flock is part of the reason why, and it's one of the few places the birds actually live in the state outside of a zoo.
The flock was originally imported from Cuba, but since then all the birds have been born at the track.