Max and more behind-the-scenes difficult news

It’s been two week’s without Max and life is still strange. The emails and cards and notes and drawings help to remember how much impact he had.chalkboard

All the tests are not back yet but it seems that Max aspirated some of his food for no apparent reason and died of choke.  It doesn’t seem to be common and there isn’t anything we learned to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. Maybe the last tests will tell us something more.

While we are still reeling from the surprise loss of Max, behind the scenes we are dealing with other difficulties and losses.

chickenLittle, our Silkie Chicken, has been around forever. We haven’t talked about how old she is for years since she should have died many years ago. She arrived in December 1999 and is possibly one of the oldest chickens ever. (Born around Easter 1999 puts her at about 16 years and 3 months).

She has been fading in recent months and has worked herself down to not much more than feathers and bones. The decision was made last week to humanly euthanize her this morning. However, we arrived at work today and we did not need to do anything as she died over the night Sunday.

Since she was used for education programs she lived behind the scenes and was not seen by the general Museum visitor. Many people had never met her. Weighing less than 1 Kg, to those that knew her, she was as larger than life and made connections and friends just like Max did. She will be greatly missed and another hole exists in so many people’s hearts.

Little "celebrates" Watermelon day.
Little “celebrates” Watermelon Day.


And still, we have other animals that are older-than-old and we know, as difficult as it is to talk about, death will come to them as well. (Hopefully in the distant future).

  • Cynthia is the oldest known living female red ruffed lemur in the world (yes- really).
  • Our rattlesnake may very well be the oldest canebrake rattlesnake around as well. (She’s over 34 years old).
  • Misha, our red-tailed hawk, used for education programs, is at least 26 years old.
  • Rocky goat is showing signs of age and is half-the-goat he used to be.goats


Animals will always die and it will always be hard. Right now I know more of it will be coming. I also know I will have memories of my Museum family and look forward to hearing what memories other people have too.


2 responses to Max and more behind-the-scenes difficult news

  1. DJ says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this…I was fortunate enough to see her on a Members Only Behind the Animal Department Tour. I remember thinking if I get reincarnated I want to come back as a Museum animal as she and the bunny were hanging out in a hallway together.

  2. Abby says:

    I appreciate you sharing this. It’s easy to present animal life to children in a rosy way that doesn’t mention death or decline. That seems an incomplete portrayal.

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