- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (AP) - A Mississippi college student is being held on bond of $17,300 after a bungled prank led to the deaths of two Chilean flamingos at the Hattiesburg Zoo.

Hattiesburg police spokesman Lt. Jon Traxler said 19-year-old Devin Nottis of Pascagoula is charged with grand larceny, two counts of animal cruelty and trespassing. Bond was set during a court appearance Friday. Nottis remained in the Forrest County jail Saturday.

If convicted, Nottis faces a maximum of 10 years on the grand larceny charge. The other charges are misdemeanors.

The University of Southern Mississippi student was arrested Wednesday night.

The university put Nottis on interim suspension, and put the fraternity he was pledging, Pi Kappa Alpha, on indefinite suspension. The chapter also was placed on administrative suspension by the national organization.

Traxler said nine other students are being investigated and may face conspiracy charges in connection with the incident.

Police say that during a fraternity scavenger hunt, Nottis took a flamingo instead of taking a picture of the bird.

The executive director of the organization that runs the Hattiesburg Zoo says a female bird was taken at 1:08 a.m. Tuesday and found later that morning, several miles away. Rick Taylor says it was returned to the zoo and had to be euthanized because of its injuries.

Taylor said a second flamingo was injured in the incident and died Wednesday. He said zoo officials believe the male flamingo died from injuries sustained while defending his mate during the attack.

Police said security cameras captured images of the suspects, including Nottis.

The animals were two of 19 remaining birds in the Chilean flamingo exhibit that opened at the zoo in April 2013. The exhibit had 21 flamingos when it opened, but two died of natural causes.

Taylor said zoo officials plan to replace all the flamingos that died. He said in order for the birds to successfully nest and breed, a flock needs at least 20 to 22 animals.

The original flamingos were purchased from Zoo Atlanta, at a cost of $2,000 for each adult birds and $1,700 for juveniles.

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