He was crusty, a curmudgeon, as only the elderly can be. Sometimes he would shriek. While he did tolerate certain people, others he just wanted to bite.
"If he didn't like you, he let you know it," said Tim Snyder, a business associate. "He was like a cranky old geezer."
Then again, he had reason. He had his infirmities — osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, cataracts. And perhaps the lingering effects of a broken heart.
"Back in the 1950s, we tried to introduce him to a female," said Snyder. "She was not nice to him. He didn't want anything to do with her."
But Cookie the cockatoo, 83, who died Saturday, was seldom alone. He was the coddled patriarch of the Brookfield Zoo. His years of putting on shows, and being on TV and on public display, were behind him, and he was cared for, outside of the public gaze, in an office at the Reptiles and Birds House. Cookie was the oldest Major Mitchell's cockatoo known, a fact recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. He was one of the zoo's "biggest stars," and the last of 270 animals present at what was then called the Chicago Zoological Park when it opened June 30, 1934, in Brookfield, on land donated by Edith Rockefeller McCormick. He had come from the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia and was estimated to be a year old.
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