It's been 15 lonely years for Utah's famed flamingo, Pink Floyd, but his friends are still committed to bringing companionship to the Chilean bird — even enlisting a pair of Nashville musicians.
After Pink Floyd escaped from Salt Lake City's Tracy Aviary in 1990, the bird decided to call the Great Salt Lake his winter home and has since captured national attention and inspired country-music duo The Readings to tell the story of Pink Floyd's life.
"We heard the story and loved it," said Eric Reading, of himself and his brother, Chris. "When you don't live there and hear about it, it's just so different. We thought we really need to record this song."
After a three-year quest, Friends for Floyd hope their plea to a new governor, coupled with a catchy soundtrack about the bird, will finally earn them permission to transport 25 flamingos from South America to the Great Salt Lake.
"The song just came out of the blue," said Jim Platte, representative of Friends for Floyd. "Floyd is pretty famous."
With phrases like, "That one big flamingo and that big Salt Lake," and "He lives alone on the outskirts of Salt Lake City," Reading said recording the song allowed the duo to take part in an artistic creation.
"I sent Jim the song and he e-mailed me back and said they were so touched and moved by it that some people in his office were teary-eyed," Reading said. "That made us happy."
Friends for Floyd have raised $50,000 to fund all costs for purchasing, transporting, quarantining and delivering the additional flamingos to the Great Salt Lake. Now they're just waiting for Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s permission.
Federal guidelines prevent Friends for Floyd from bringing flamingos into Utah without specific permits, but Platte said his appeals to former Govs. Mike Leavitt and Olene Walker and now to Huntsman are for endorsement only, and are meant to link him with the right people at the Division of Wildlife Resources so they can obtain the necessary permits.
Platte said he thinks additional flamingos will benefit Utah tourism. However, some Utahns think flamingos harm the ecosystem.
"Some conservationists can see what humans have done to ecosystems and they are frightened to do anything," Platte said.