PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Flamingos are always a popular draw at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Though they’re usually seen from a distance, once a week they get to step outside and mingle with their fans.

Brandy and Sangria have a crush on zookeeper Kathy Suthard. But the other birds are happy to make new friends with kids and their parents.

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“All of these birds were hand-raised,” the zookeeper says, “so they’re all really good with people.”

She says the idea for a flamingo walk came about almost by accident.

“I sat down once in the exhibit with them, and they all flocked around me and began to groom me. We brought other keepers in, and the birds enjoyed it, and the people enjoyed it. So we thought, ‘Let’s walk them out and let visitors enjoy it as well.’ And the birds have a blast out here,” said Suthard. “They talk and squawk and jump in the air. They groom people and untie their shoes. And it’s an enrichment for them and the zoo visitors as well.”

Young visitors are fascinated by the gangly, yet beautiful birds.

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“They shake their legs, says Marion Zalenski of Pittsburgh. “When they stand still, they shake their legs.”

Alexis Kitsko, of Center Township, is attracted by their bright pink color.

“An interesting fact about them is the more shrimp they eat, the pinker they get,” she says.

The flamingos strut their stuff every Thursday in the summer. In the winter, it’s the “march of the penguins.” No matter what time of year, the zoo is “for the birds.”

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