Flamingos in Children's Media
Appropriately named for the wing of the mythological bird, the phoenix, the flamingo introduces itself to each new generation as if it were appearing for the first time. The cheeky avians date back to the age of dinosaurs, with fossils of little-known birds considered flamingo ancestors. Revered by ancient cultures, Egyptians believed flamingos were living representatives of the god Ra while the Moche people of Peru, worshippers of nature and animals, depicted flamingos in their art.
The invention of motion pictures brought a new kind of fame to the flamingo -- especially in children’s programming. This article introduces three popular flamingos introduced through both television and motion pictures within the last two decades.
1986 saw the introduction of Placido Flamingo to the cast of Sesame Street. An effective way to learn about opera for viewers of all ages, this flamboyant flamingo held his own talent in high regard and loved hearing the sound of his own voice. Even though Sesame Street retired Placido in 1992 articles about music appreciation still cite the character as an early and influential introduction to opera.
Yo Yo Flamingo
Much to the chagrin of the snooty flamingos in Disney’s Fantasia 2000, Yo Yo Flamingo manages to play with his beloved toy yo-yo throughout their entire swimming practice. His fame lived on long after the motion picture left theatres and moved on to video format. Yo Yo Flamingo made cameo appearances in the animated Disney television series “House of Mouse” and made an appearance in “The Three Caballeros” sitting alongside Clara Cluck.
The forlorn, pink plastic Featherstone Flamingo first appeared in Gnomeo and Juliet, the 2011 computer-animated family comedy based on Romeo and Juliet, the play by William Shakespeare. Unlike most of the other cast members, Featherstone (named for Don Featherstone, inventor of the plastic pink flamingo) both supports and encourages the couple’s relationship. He even uses the story of how other people’s hate destroyed his own past relationship with another plastic pink flamingo.
Due to their quirky appearance and pleasing pink color, flamingos make wonderful characters in children’s media. Not all of them are this docile. One version of the Batman comics includes a villain named The Flamingo tries to slay the Dynamic Duo once and for all! I personally prefer the more cheerful variety and look forward to future characters in all kinds of media.