The world’s oldest flamingo died at the age of 83, at Australia's Adelaide Zoo, on Friday morning, following complications associated with old age and arthritis, which led zoo authorities to put the bird to sleep.
The flamingo, affectionately known as “Greater,” reportedly arrived at the zoo in 1993, but records about where it came from are unclear. The flamingo, whose sex is unknown, is said to have arrived either from Cairo or the Hamburg Zoo.
“Greater is best known for being the world’s oldest flamingo and the last greater flamingo to have resided in Australia,” Elaine Bensted, chief executive of the zoo, reportedly said.
“When Greater’s physical health started to deteriorate last year, our veterinary team began a course of anti-inflammatory pain medication to ensure Greater’s comfort,” she reportedly said. “Greater responded well to treatment and remarkably survived the cold winter.”
But, last week, Greater’s health took a turn for the worse and the staff at the zoo decided that they should put Greater to sleep. In 2008, the flamingo had been beaten by several teenagers in an attack, which injured the flamingo badly, but the bird survived the attack and recovered.
Bensted reportedly said that the zoo has already been getting comments from people in memory of Greater, stating that it would be very difficult for all who remember the flamingo to walk past the same pond.
The staff at the Adelaide Zoo are mourning the death of Greater, the zoo's oldest resident, and Bensted said that the zoo was now planning to build a memorial for the bird. She also said that the zookeepers will now keep a close watch on Greater’s pond-mate, Chilly, a 65-year-old Chilean flamingo and Australia's last, to “see any reaction.”
“They’ve had some thoughts about putting a mirror up in the pond so Chilly thinks he has a companion, but it’s difficult to know,” Bensted added.
The Adelaide Zoo is unsure when they can bring in another flamingo, due to a moratorium on the bird’s import to Australia. According to reports, flamingos can live for decades in captivity, but they have only a lifespan of 25 years in the wild, due to a lack of medication and because they're vulnerable to attacks from other animals.