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Cookie, World's Oldest Parrot, Dies At Brookfield Zoo At 83

By Gwendolyn Purdom in News on Aug 30, 2016 2:13PM

When Brookfield Zoo opened in 1934, Cookie the Major Mitchell's cockatoo was one of its original residents. Cookie died over the weekend at the age of 83, the zoo announced Monday; and his caretakers and fans are mourning the loss of not only the zoo's oldest resident, but the Guinness World Record-holding oldest living parrot anywhere.

Cookie retired from being on exhibit at the zoo in 2009 and spent his twilight years hanging with staff in an enclosure in the zoo's offices. Like many 83-year-olds, he suffered from arthritis, cataracts, and osteoporosis, the zoo said in a release, and generally has been taking it easy lately until this weekend, when the zoo's veterinary team saw "a very abrupt decline in his health." He was euthanized Saturday morning.

“This is a sad day for staff, as well as for the many guests who came to Brookfield Zoo specifically to see Cookie,” Chicago Zoological Society CEO Stuart Strahl said in a statement. “He was a very charismatic animal and definitely had a loyal fan base. He will be greatly missed.”


Cookie made the most of his many years (Major Mitchell's cockatoos life expectancy is usually closer to 50 or 60 years) at the zoo. Since being transferred to Brookfield at age 1 from a zoo in Australia, the bird was a hit with visitors, especially as his age started making headlines. For years, the zoo held an annual birthday party for Cookie that eventually had to be moved outside because so many guests attended. For his 75th birthday in 2008, a local artist wrote him a song. A holy man who founded a parrot sanctuary in India made a pilgrimage just to meet Cookie in 2013.

Earlier this year, Brookfield said goodbye to another of its oldest animal residents—Maggie, named the world's second oldest orangutan at the time, died in May. But at 54, Maggie wasn't nearly as senior as Cookie.

Condolences were piling up for Cookie on the zoo's Facebook page after the zoo posted about his death on Monday. As of Tuesday morning, the post had been shared more than 11,000 times. The Chicago Zoological Society says a memorial fund has been set up in Cookie's honor, and contributions will benefit the society's Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare for the care of all of Brookfield's bird collection, along with other animals at the zoo.