National Zoo’s 67-year-old flamingo dies

Betty, the 67-year-old flamingo at the National Zoo, died in January. (Photo courtesy Smithsonian National Zoo)

Betty, the 67-year-old Caribbean flamingo that called the Smithsonian National Zoo “home,” died Jan. 25, zoo officials said in a statement Friday.

The zoo said Betty lived well-beyond the average life expectancy of 26 years in “human care,” and called it “a testament to the dedication and care of our Bird House team.”

Betty was known to D.C. zookeepers as the “matriarch” of the flamingoes, and “stood out as an individual.” She liked to stand just outside the perimeter of the flock, where she could easily keep an eye on the rest of the flamingoes, the statement recalls.

Betty was born in the wild around 1954, and came to the zoo in 1976. She had one chick, and took care of many others.

“For 46 years, Betty served as an amazing animal ambassador for generations of animal keepers, scientists and visitors,” the statement honoring Betty reads. “We are grateful for all she taught us about flamingo biology, behavior and breeding. Our Zoo family misses her dearly.”

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Julie Gallagher

Julie Gallagher is a freelance digital writer and editor for She previously covered the 2020 election with CNN and has bylines in The Lily, WIRED, NBC Washington, The Baltimore Sun, Washington City Paper and more.

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