The official bird of Madison, Wisconsin is the plastic pink flamingo. Now this would seem pretty weird and peculiar to use something that isn’t real as an official animal, but Madison isn’t the first and only place to make such a decision. You may have read our other facts about some other animals that aren’t really real such as Scotland’s national animal being the unicorn, or the national animal of North Korea being a Chollima. The decision by Madison, Wisconsin to declare the plastic pink flamingo as it’s official animal certainly is a weird one, but at least it doesn’t stand alone in its quirkiness.
Why is the official bird of Madison, Wisconsin the plastic pink flamingo?
The idea to adopt the plastic pink flamingo as the official bird of Madison originated from a prank in 1979. The Pail and Shovel party had placed thousands of the garden lawn ornaments on Bascom Hill as a simple prank. Wisconsin State Journal writer Doug Moe wrote an article on the prank and suggested that the statue be adopted as the official bird.
Three decades after the initial prank the idea was taken to the Council by Alder Marsha Rummel and the motion was debated for five minutes before a vote was taken. The Common Council voted 15-4 to make the plastic pink flamingo the official bird of Madison.
The plastic pink flamingos were designed by Don Featherstone in 1957. The lawn ornament went on to become one of the most popular lawn ornaments in the US, eventually earning its designer the Ig Nobel Prize for Art in 1996. After the release of the John Waters movie, Pink Flamingo, they became synonymous with tacky lawns, and they are sometimes banned by home owners associations because of the belief that they devalue property.