Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Mourning an Aquatic Institution
Well, it looks like 2017 really is shaping up to be the 2016 of zoo animal celebrities. First Tilikum. Then Colo. Now we've lost Granddad.
"Granddad" was the name given to the Queensland lungfish at the Shedd Aquarium - not only was he the oldest zoo animal in the Chicago area, but he was believed to be the oldest aquarium fish in the world. AT 4 feet long and 25 pounds, he was hardly the biggest or showiest resident of the aquarium, but his endurance - his tenure at the Shedd covered the administrations of 13 US Presidents - made him a legend. Granddad was there before World War II, before the Space Race, and before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Being a lover of obscurities, it's always a pleasure for me to watch one of the less-famous species in a zoo or aquarium achieve rock star status. Every zoo has a famous elephant, or chimp, or bear, or tiger. Those are the animals that the public knows best and, as a result, those are the animals that it is the easiest to rally support for the conservation of. A fish, though? A fish who gets his own obituary in the international news? That's a new kind of fame and popularity.
Hopefully, some of it'll rub off on the other fish at the Shedd.
Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri, Granddad, 1982. | Patrice Ceisel/Shedd Aquarium photo