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Chicago Zoological Society

Cookie, the World’s Oldest Parrot, Has Died at Age 83

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Chicago Zoological Society

This week, Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo announced the loss of a resident that delighted generations of visitors. Cookie the Major Mitchell’s cockatoo died on August 27, Chicagoist reports. At the age of 83, the bird held the title of oldest parrot in the world.

Cookie was a member of the original collection of animals that ushered in the zoo’s opening in 1934. He arrived at Brookfield when he was just a year old, and as he aged, the bird became one of the zoo's must-see attractions. Most Major Mitchell’s cockatoos don't live beyond age 60, so in the past few decades it became apparent that Cookie was remarkable. His annual birthday parties grew to be so large that they were moved outdoors to accommodate all the visitors. Fans who couldn’t visit him in person mailed in cards, letters, and toys addressed to the feathered celebrity.

Cookie at age 39. Image credit: Chicago Zoological Society.

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

The zoo made the decision to euthanize Cookie on Saturday morning in light of his sudden decline in health. After retiring in 2009, Cookie lived the last years of his life in the zoo’s offices where “he enjoyed the constant companionship of the staff he knew so well.”

[h/t Chicagoist]

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Focus Features
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Animals
25 Shelter Dogs Who Made It Big
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Focus Features

If you’ve been thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your brood and are deciding whether a shelter dog is right for you, consider this: Some of history’s most amazing pooches—from four-legged movie stars to heroic rescue dogs—were found in animal shelters. In honor of Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, here are 25 shelter dogs who made it big.

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iStock
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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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iStock

Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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