Animals

The World's Oldest Aquarium Fish Has Died

Chicago's Shedd Aquarium euthanizes its celebrity lungfish Granddad, who was likely 100 years old.

<p>Shedd Aquarium</p>

The world's oldest aquarium fish has died, according to officials from the animal's former home at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.

Granddad, a male Australian lungfish that first arrived at the facility in 1933, had to be euthanized on February 5, after an exam revealed his internal organs were failing. The fish's exact age is impossible to pinpoint, according to the aquarium, but officials there think Granddad was near the century mark, given that Australian lungfish can live to be 100 and he was fully grown when he first came to them.

In 1933, an exposition expected to draw millions of people was set to take place close to Shedd's facilities, and Granddad arrived from Australia's Taronga Zoo in Sydney as part of a bid to give aquarium visitors some new aquatic animals to see. As Shedd's blog tells it, the elderly lungfish was among 600 animals that were transported 9,000 miles from Sydney to their new home in Chicago.

While the decades rolled by in the outside world, Granddad lived in habitats that aimed to recreate a riverbank ecosystem, dining on fare such as clams, fish and shrimp while aquarium visitors enjoyed catching sight of him.

"He loved to eat his leafy greens," offered Granddad's primary handler Michelle Sattler in a statement. "But worms were definitely his favorite, and he would become quite animated – for a very slow-moving fish – on what became 'Earthworm Wednesdays,' when they were dropped into his habitat. We loved him. And he will be sorely missed."

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Age is a bit of a theme with lungfish. They're a truly ancient brand of sea-dweller, existing for hundreds of millions of years with very little change. Today they only exist in Australia, South America and Africa.

Granddad, according to Shedd's blog, "was the last standing (or swimming) among Chicago's beloved trio of ancient animals, which also included a dwarf African crocodile, R1, who lived at Lincoln Park Zoo from 1930 to 2010, and Brookfield Zoo's 83-year-old Major Mitchell's cockatoo, Cookie, who died in August of last year."

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