The Story of Pink Floyd, the Great Salt Lake Flamingo

Photo by DarioCastro/

Flamingos are considered tropical creatures that hang out on sunny, sandy beaches. But one flamingo, affectionately known as Pink Floyd, chose a different path.

In 1988, Pink Floyd - though he wasn’t called such at the time - made a break for it. He had been living at the Tracy Aviary in downtown Salt Lake City with nine other flamingos. Despite regular wing clippings to avoid this exact scenario, Pink Floyd managed to evade these trimmings for long enough to regain his ability to fly. Once that lightbulb lit up, he was gone.

The Chilean flamingo immediately made its way to the Great Salt Lake, and that body of water became its on-again, off-again home for years to come. Pink Floyd grew in prominence as he continued his life in the American West - he earned his nickname, attracted onlookers who came from far and near to pick out the pink in the Utahn sky, and managed to make it work despite his solitude and surroundings.

As it turned out, the Great Salt Lake was an awesome place for a flamingo. The lake was loaded with brine shrimp, a delicacy to those of the flamingo persuasion, and it became Pink Floyd’s annual winter spot all the way through to 2005.

Initially, Tracy Aviary intended to recapture the bird. But the findings at the lake were simply too good to tempt Pink Floyd to leave. He ignored their bait to lure him in, and he kept on living his life as a free bird.

Pink Floyd didn’t only stay at the Great Salt Lake - he just wintered there. In the summer, Pink Floyd would head further north, often spotted at the Lima reservoir or Camas National Wildlife Refuge near the Idaho-Montana border. One summer, the bird was also seen about 30 miles south of the salty lake, and in another summer, he made his home at a different lake a bit north of the great one.

“The habitat out here is marvelous,” Mark Stackhouse, an aviary education coordinator, told Robert Rice of Deseret News in 1989. “Except for the lack of company, he’s living the life of Riley.”

It’s true that Pink Floyd didn’t have any other flamingo companions once he ditched captivity, but he branched out to other buddies. Pink Floyd occasionally hung around a pack of seagulls and found other bird cliques to associate with from time to time. But his pink presence always stood out.

Jim Platt, a local business owner, proposed to buy and release the rest of the aviary’s flamingos in 2003 for the price of $1,000 per bird. As leader of a larger group working for this aim, called Friends for Floyd, he campaigned hard, taking out newspaper ads urging people to contact the state government to make it happen. The idea was ultimately rejected for a multitude of reasons, but it shows the level of fandom Pink Floyd garnered in the area.

“I know what freedom is, and I think Floyd is having that experience,” Platt said to Catherine S. Blake of The Seattle Times in 2003. “I’d like him to be friends with others who are having the same experience. They could breed and be a wild flock.”

The last time Pink Floyd was seen was 2005 - though one person claims to have seen a flamingo in the Great Salt Lake water in 2010 - but his lure continues in Utah’s biggest city. In 2021, a new downtown apartment and condo complex commissioned a mural including the flamingo to be painted along the side of the structure. The art incorporates a “lenticular” design so it looks like Pink Floyd is moving based on your position to the painting.

“The mural is inspired by the legend and celebrity of the flamingo, Pink Floyd,” Phillip Adams, the artist behind the work, said on Instagram in 2021. “He would return to the Great Salt Lake every winter. This playful homage to home links a unique and rare piece of local history with the breathtaking landscapes around Salt Lake City, specifically showcasing Sundial Peak in the Wasatch Mountains. It’s entitled, ‘The Return of Pink Floyd’”

We’re coming up on two decades since the consensus acknowledged the conclusion of Pink Floyd’s reign over the Great Salt Lake. Though the bird himself is long gone, his legacy has lived on in the spirit of the Salt Lake City community.


  • Mary Jane Gluck

    Thank You so much for the article on.
    Pink Floyd The Pink Pink Flamingo 🦩🦩🦩 how interesting story. About this Thank You so much for your Story on Pink Floyd and His Adventures In Salt Lake Utah

  • Mary Jane Gluck

    Thank You for Sharing this Story with me Pink Floyd!!! To learn about (Pink Floyd)
    The Flamingo 🦩🦩🦩

  • Janice Peters

    Just before I moved from Los Angeles to Morro Bay California, bringing my plastic flamingo flock along, a real flamingo was seen in the estuary around Morro Rock. He/she? had escaped from the nearby Atascadero Zoo. He was seen for several months, socializing with the egrets and herons, but left just before I arrived. I became involved with our local Winter Bird Festival and told this story at our welcoming meeting. The next day, some clever participant planted a plastic flamingo in the estuary, and on the bird siting board for that day was the entry “flamingus plasticus.” Everyone got a laugh out of that!

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