San Antonio Zoo surprises terminally ill Austin resident with flamingo

San Antonio Zoo's aviculture team gave Austin resident Peggy Garrison a wild surprise Thursday with a home visit by one of the zoo's American flamingos, Mango.

Peggy Garrison personally owns 158 flamingo items, artifacts, and trinkets, as well as a hot pink Christmas tree for which she has all flamingo decorations. She is also in her final stage of battling cancer and under hospice care. 

When asked why she likes flamingos, Garrison said, "When I saw them fly, I just thought they were so beautiful."

According to Garrison, she saw some flamingo yard decor at a friend's house, liked it, and "borrowed" it for a few weeks. She said her conscience made her return the items, but it became a joke in the family and turned into a lifelong collection, fifty years in the making.

Austin resident Peggy Garrison, who is in her final stage of battling cancer and under hospice care, loves flamingoes and she got a wild surprise with a home visit by one of the San Antonio Zoo's American flamingos. (San Antonio Zoo)

"Part of the zoo's mission is to inspire people to love animals and the places they live. Peggy certainly loves flamingos, possibly even more than we do. It was an amazing opportunity to help celebrate and honor her life with the help of one of our animals," said San Antonio Zoo president & CEO Tim Morrow.  "We are incredibly honored to be a part of this surprise for Peggy."

Garrison's daughter, Amy Doezema, said she could tell the experience really lifted her mother's spirit.

"We really hadn't seen her smile or talk much in the past days," said Doezema. "I'm so happy that the zoo was able to do this for Peggy. Her love language has always been giving gifts to others. She would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. It feels terrific to be able to give something back to her."

The zoo delivered a Mango Adopt-An-Animal flamingo to coincide with the visit, keeping Garrison company, reminding her of her unique visitor, and becoming the 159th flamingo item in her collection.


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