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San Diego Zoo’s Official Greeter For 64 Years Dies

December 31, 1990

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ King Tut, a grand-old cockatoo that greeted millions of visitors to the San Diego Zoo during the bird’s 64 years as official greeter, has died.

King Tut was at least 67 years old, spokesman Jeff Jouett said.

The salmon-crested bird had fallen from its perch and was found Sunday after zookeepers heard odd squawking noises from the bird yard, Jouett said.

Veterinarians tried to revive the male bird with oxygen and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

It was donated to the zoo in 1925 and was named King Tut because its arrival came shortly after the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt.

The bird delighted more than 100 million zoo visitors from his perch next to the flamingo lagoon with antics that included whistling and imitations of crying babies, meowing cats, clucking chickens and other species of birds.

It also appeared in motion pictures and television shows, including an early episode of ″The Mickey Mouse Club.″

Bothered by arthritis and cataracts in both eyes, King Tut was retired from the greeters’ perch just inside the entrance in June 1989. It was then moved to the education department and appeared at special events, school programs and zoo tours.

The life expectancy of cockatoos generally is three to four decades, said Jouett. Some have lived into their 60s, and Jouett knows of one that was in its 80s before dying.

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