Como Zoo's Harriet the flamingo eulogized better than most humans


Sad news of the day: Como Zoo's 47-year-old flamingo was euthanized. Everyone's reporting about Harriet. We didn't even know they had a famous flamingo, but it's sad nonetheless.

And not only is the flamingo dead after battling through cancer since 1998, the flamingo gets a better obituary than most humans. How does that make you feel?

The full obit from the Como Zoo, originally posted by the Pioneer Press:

The Passing of Harriet the Flamingo at Como Zoo

The 39 year resident of Como Zoo succumbs to cancer Saint Paul, MN

(April 3, 2009) - It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Harriet, the 47 year old Caribbean Flamingo, at Como Zoo. Harriet has been a fixture and crowd favorite at Como Zoo for 39 years. Harriet survived battles with cancer, as well as radiation treatments, dating back to 1998 when her right middle toe was amputated due to cancerous growth. In 2002, cancer returned and her left middle toe had to be amputated. Harriet was a celebrity in the medical world garnering national media exposure for her long battle with cancer.


Harriet was so well adjusted to making her numerous trips to the University of Minnesota for radiation treatment that she would often sit quietly on the lap of a zookeeper with her long, pink neck and head peering out the vehicle window.

Standing on one leg is the flamingo's most comfortable resting position and in her final days, Harriet had difficulty standing on her right foot, along with weight loss and a poor appetite. Blood-work showed that she had a systemic infection as well as heart issues. Sadly, last week after her long battle, Harriet was euthanized.

Como Zoo has been exhibiting flamingos since the last 1960's. The life span of a flamingo is 20-30 years, although 50 years is not unusual. In 2008 a new baby Chilean flamingo was hatched, a first in Como's long history. Due to the flamingo's unusual breeding practices, some AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) institutions have been unsuccessful producing chicks. With increased research, zoos have been becoming more successful in recent years.

Como Zoo is home to two of five species of flamingo, the Chilean and the Caribbean. The Caribbean flamingo are the brightest, showing their true colors of red, pink, or orange on their legs, bills, and faces. The flamingo's pink color, which is very important for stimulating reproduction, comes from the food they eat, including algae, diatoms, and small aquatic insects and crustaceans.

Harriet is survived by her longtime flamingo partner, Ozzie, four additional Caribbean flamingos and thirteen Chilean flamingos.