Flamingos pack into Florida park bathroom, seeking safety from Ian in a 'hurricane party'

Flamingos at a Florida park hunkered down in a bathroom this week, safely riding out Hurricane Ian after it made landfall Wednesday in the Sunshine State.

The flamingos are residents of Sunken Gardens, a botanical park in St. Petersburg along the state's west coast. The park tweeted the photo from its official account Wednesday to reassure animal lovers that the flamingos appeared safe from the oncoming storm.

A photo of the pink creatures bunched together in a bathroom spread widely on social media and appeared to lighten some people's mood amid the deadly, destructive storm. The snap also shows a large bowl of food and water on the ground.

“We're hunkered down! Our animals are safe w/staff on site to see them through the storm. The flamingos are having a hurricane party in the bathroom; eating, drinking, & dancing. Stay safe out there!” the tweet reads.

Flamingos Sunken Gardens, a botanic park in St. Petersburg, hunker down inside a bathroom at the facility on Sept. 28, 2022 as Hurricane Ian makes landfall.
Flamingos Sunken Gardens, a botanic park in St. Petersburg, hunker down inside a bathroom at the facility on Sept. 28, 2022 as Hurricane Ian makes landfall.

Ian hit hardest farther south, making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane and bringing 150 mph winds, storm surges and mass destruction. As of Friday morning, at least 12 deaths had been reported in the state, and more than 2 million Floridians remained without power.

According to the City's of St. Petersburg' website, the 4-acre park where the pink flamingos live is the state's oldest living museum. The 100-year-old garden is home to not only birds but also to some of the oldest tropical plants in the region.

The gardens are one of the oldest roadside tourist attractions in the nation.

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Dwyane Biggs, Sunken Gardens' supervising director, told USA TODAY the park sustained minimal damage from Ian.

"There's no structural damage, just some trees down in the garden," he said Friday. "We've got the flamingos outside and we started cleanup yesterday morning. All the animals are back out in their exhibits."

Also home to other birds and turtles, the park will reopen to guests Saturday at 10 a.m. EDT, Biggs said.

This week wasn't the first time we've seen flamingos seek shelter in a bathroom during a hurricane.

"I can't believe it has been 30 years since Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida," wildlife expert and photographer Ron Magill posted on Twitter this week with a photo of another group of pink flamingos huddled together in a South Florida bathroom. "I'll never forget capturing this image of the zoos flamingos huddled in the ladies restroom for protection."

Ian struck at the island of Cayo Costa near Fort Myers and Cape Coral. Heavy rains and winds then traveled more than 100 miles north to the Tampa Bay zoo.

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Ian was later downgraded to a tropical storm but strengthened back into a Category 1 hurricane late Thursday and was set to make landfall Friday afternoon on the coast of South Carolina before moving inland across the state and into North Carolina by Saturday.

Hard rain and tropical storm conditions had reached the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas by Friday morning, where life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions were expected to develop. Rainfall of up to 8 inches threatened flooding from South Carolina to Virginia, the National Weather Service reported.

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Photo of flamingos in Florida bathroom during Hurricane Ian goes viral