Published on 09 November, 2021

Iconic pink feathered friends to re-emerge at the Museum

Adelaide Zoo’s iconic pink flamingo pair, Chile and Greater, are set to come out of “retirement” and back on show at the South Australian Museum as part of Feast Festival 2021.

Enter alt text*

Adelaide Zoo’s iconic pink flamingo pair, Chile and Greater, are set to come out of “retirement” and back on show at the South Australian Museum as part of Feast Festival 2021.

The flamboyant duo who delighted visitors for a combined total of 135 years with their pink plumage and quirky interactions, will be immortalised in the Museum’s World Mammals Gallery using a new taxidermy process that will ensure the longevity of these beautiful old birds.  

Greater, named after his species (Greater Flamingo) came to the Adelaide Zoo in the 1930s, he lived a long, abundant life passing away at age 83 – before he passed Greater was believed to be the oldest flamingo in captivity in the world.  

Greater spent much of his life with friend Chile, a Chilean Flamingo. Chile passed away in 2018 and was Australia’s last remaining flamingo.

Following their deaths, Adelaide Zoo donated Chile and Greater to the Museum for generations to enjoy and to teach visitors about sustainability, biodiversity, and taxidermy.

Phil Ainsley, Director of Adelaide Zoo explained that during their time at the Zoo the pair were much loved by keepers, staff, volunteers, and visitors.

“How wonderful that their stories and that of their species can continue to be told.

“Current biosecurity rules mean we can’t import flamingoes anymore so for some visitors this could be the only chance to ever get up close to these birds,” he added.  

Keeper Emma Crittle who spent a lot of time with Greater and Chile reflected on her time with quirky duo.

“My favourite memory of Greater and Chile was putting them in their night area at the end of the day. Chile always had to go first and then Greater would follow, but would often resist and take a cheeky detour to draw out the process.

“On beautiful sunny evenings you knew you would need your gumboots because Greater would be in the middle of the pond refusing to go to bed. That also meant you had to trudge through the pond with him for gentle encouragement!

“It was like putting the kids to bed. They were so charismatic and such a funny duo that I truly cherished every moment I got to spend with them,” said Ms Crittle.

The Museum’s longtime 3D design Specialist, Jo Bain, was tasked with the challenging job of preserving the former Zoo favourites – an extremely intricate undertaking given the ripe age and delicate skin of the feathered friends.

Unlike conventional taxidermy where the whole animal skin is used, this unconventional and technical process involves replacing the head and legs with synthetic replicas, which are coloured to match the originals. As a result, the flamingo mounts will look more lifelike, last longer and be better protected against any pests.

Chile and Greater will make their public debut on Friday 12 November 2021 at the Museum’s after-hours event Night Lab: Birds of a Feather, Flock Together during Feast Festival.

Brian Oldman Director of the South Australian Museum said the flamingos will be an exciting addition to the Museum’s extensive World Mammals Gallery.

“For over 100 years the Museum has acquired very special animals, such as the Zoo’s first elephant “Miss Siam”, he said.

“Chile and Greater are much-loved icons and we are honoured to welcome them into our World Mammals Gallery so that their story can be shared and enjoyed by many generations to come.”

To support the Museum’s work in preserving Chile and Greater, donate to the Flamingo Fund

Tickets for Night Lab are on sale now and can be purchased online.

In addition to Night Lab, the 2021 Feast Festival program includes the Museum’s free self-guided LGBTIQ+ trail: It’s in Our Nature: A Queer Tour of the Museum - a first for a natural history museum in Australia.

Photo credit: Emma Crittle

Coming up next

What's On

Explore what's on