Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cookie the Cockatoo, Brookfield Zoo's oldest resident, dead at 83

     I was going to simply post my visit to Brookfield Zoo's elderly bird from three years ago and be done with it. But I kinda liked the idea of jumping in for a rare Tuesday column on a big breaking story like the passing of Cookie the cockatoo. 

     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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  1. I guess this is what is generally termed a "human interest" story. And it really is. All the glory of youth, all the sadness of debilitating age, the ache of unrequited love. Cookie had the whole bag. Requiescat in pace, little bird.


    1. Good use of Latin there, John.

      Also, if someone in the family has tinnitus, shrieking parrots are out of the question.

  2. Never thought I'd be reading a bird obituary, but Cookie was an exceptional bird, and deserved one. He lived a long life and was loved by many. RIP handsome boy.


  3. We owned a cockatiel once. Don't think it was nearly as old as Cookie, but BOY did it shriek. We finally had to get rid of it.

    Bitter Scribe

  4. He was a dear. Parakeets can be playful and not as noisy or bite so hard. Finches and canaries aren't great for being playful.

  5. Aww. That's sad. We have a cockatoo at our local zoo. His name is Einstein. He knows my husband and always tries to snatch his cap off his head. He gets so excited about things that he has to be taken to a quiet room where he can calm down and so is not always on display.

  6. what a sweet fascinating column. don't know if you remember me being fascinated by birds as a youngster, the giant book of all the bird of the world. i knew them all by name especially the exotic ones. love birds they possess a lightness and freedom we can only envy....


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