San Antonio Zoo makes terminally ill cancer patient’s flamingo dream a reality

Austin woman meets live flamingo from San Antonio Zoo

Peggy Garrison's flamingo visit
Peggy Garrison's flamingo visit (San Antonio Zoo)

AUSTIN – There’s something about flamingos that tickles one Austin resident pink.

Last week, Peggy Garrison, who is in her final stage of cancer and under hospice care, received a surprise visitor from the San Antonio Zoo —a flamingo named Mango.

San Antonio Zoo makes terminally ill cancer patient’s flamingo dream a reality
San Antonio Zoo makes terminally ill cancer patient’s flamingo dream a reality

For 50 years, Garrison has been an avid collector of flamingo-themed items, from artifacts to decorations for her hot pink Christmas tree. She is the proud owner of 158 flamingo items.

One thing about flamingos that started Garrison’s love of the bird was their flight.

Peggy with Mango, adopt-An-Animal plush Mango and San Antonio Zoo staff (Mandy Woodburn, San Antonio Zoo)

“When I saw them fly, I just thought they were so beautiful,” Garrison said in San Antonio Zoo’s press release.

The visit allowed Garrison to smile again, which she hadn’t done much of for a while, according to her daughter Amy Doezema.

“We really hadn’t seen her smile or talk much in the past days,” Doezema said. “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.”

As a memento of the visit, the zoo sent an Adopt-An-Animal plush of Mango, which makes this the 159th flamingo in Garrison’s collection.

Peggy holding Mango the flamingo. (Mandy Woodburn, San Antonio Zoo)

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About the Author:

Raven Jordan is a digital and social intern at KSAT 12. She majored in digital and print journalism at UNT's Mayborn School of Journalism.