By Tom Fedorowytsch
An 83-year-old greater flamingo, believed to be the oldest in the world, has died at the Adelaide Zoo.
The flamingo, known as Greater, arrived at the zoo in 1933 and was seen by generations of visitors.
It was the oldest animal in the zoo and the last flamingo of its type in Australia.
Zoos SA chief executive Elaine Bensted said keepers made the decision to end Greater’s life after complications from arthritis and old age.
“In the last week his health really took a turn for the worse,” she said,
“In discussions with his keeping staff- who he’s been cared by for many, many years – and the veterinary team, we said really the only humane thing to do was to peacefully put him to sleep.
“We’re already being overwhelmed with feedback and comments just about, I guess, the memories that people have of Greater and how much walking past the ponds will be sad for a lot of people.”
The flamingo was badly beaten by a group of teenagers in 2008 in an attack that horrified zoo staff and the visiting public.
Ms Bensted said the Adelaide Zoo was now considering a memorial to the bird.
She said zookeepers will also be closely monitoring Greater’s pond-mate of 65 years, Chilly, a Chilean flamingo and the last flamingo in Australia.
“The vets will keep a really close watch on him to see any reaction,” she said.
“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.”
Zoos SA said it was not known when Adelaide Zoo could house another greater flamingo, because of a moratorium on their importation to Australia.