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World's oldest flamingo dies at 83: Greater had to be put down due to old age

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The world's oldest flamingo has died at the age of 83 at the Adelaide Zoo in Australia. “Greater is best known for being the world's oldest flamingo and the last greater flamingo to have resided in Australia," said Elaine Bensted, who is Zoos South Australia chief executive. According to a Jan. 31, 2014, BBC report, the staff members at the Adelaide Zoo were in mourning on Friday.

Greater, whose sex is unknown, was not only the world’s oldest flamingo but at the age of 83, it was also the zoo’s oldest resident. Greater was almost blind.

The world’s oldest flamingo, named “Greater” after his species, arrived at the Adelaide Zoo in 1933 and was a popular attraction among zoo visitors. Greater flamingos, Phoenicopterus roseus, are usually larger than other flamingoes and have a characteristic pale plumage and pink bills. In the wild, the life expectancy of Phoenicopterus roseus ranges around 25 years. In controlled environments like zoos, Greater flamingos are known to have a life expectancy of around 60 years.

In 2008, the world’s oldest flamingo survived a bad beating by a group of teenagers, but during the past years, Greater began to show signs of arthritis and old age. Last year, veterinarians were able to ease Greater’s discomfort with the use of anti-inflammatory pain medication and Greater astonishingly survived the cold winter.

This week, however, Greater’s physical health took a turn for the worse and with no medication left to ease Greater's pain, Adelaide Zoo officials and those who loved the old flamingo decided on Thursday to let the beloved animal go -- and to humanely put it to sleep.

"Although this is an extremely sad loss for us all, it was the right thing to do," said Elaine Bensted.

In honor of the world’s oldest flamingo, Adelaide Zoo officials are considering a memorial for Greater near the flamingo pond. Greater is survived by its longtime companion Chilly, a 65-year-old Chilean flamingo. “Zoo officials said they would keep a close watch on Chilly to see if there was any reaction to Greater's death.”

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