HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Police say a Mississippi college student has been arrested after bungled prank led to the deaths of two Chilean flamingos at the Hattiesburg Zoo.
Hattiesburg police spokesman Lt. Jon Traxler says 19-year-old Devin Nottis of Pascagoula is charged with grand larceny. The University of Southern Mississippi student was arrested Wednesday night.
Police say that during a fraternity scavenger hunt, Nottis took a flamingo instead of taking a picture of the bird.
The executive director of the organization that runs the Hattiesburg Zoo says a female bird was taken at 1:08 a.m. Tuesday and found later that morning, several miles away. Rick Taylor says it was returned to the zoo and had to be euthanized because of its injuries.
Taylor said a second flamingo was injured in the incident and died Wednesday. He said zoo officials believe the male flamingo died from injuries sustained while defending his mate during the attack.
Police said security cameras captured images of six people, including Nottis. Traxler said the investigation is continuing.
USM responded Thursday by suspending Nottis and the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity of which he is a member.
"This is a terrible and heinous act that has occurred, and inconsistent with the values of our institution," USM Vice President for Student Affairs Joe Paul said in a written statement.
Paul said Nottis is prohibited from campus for any reason other than judicial proceedings with the University's Dean of Students Office and is subject to arrest if found in violation of the order.
He said the fraternity has been ordered to cease all activities until further notice by the university. In addition, the national office of the fraternity has placed the chapter on administrative suspension, requiring that it cease operations for 30 days while executive officers determine its future, Paul said.