What’s The Oldest Known Chicken?

Matilda was the oldest known chicken in the world living for more than 16 years. Matilda was born in Bessemer, Alabama, USA on Feb. 11, 1990.

She was a Bantam, Red Pyle-colored, Old English Game hen. Her name was taken from the song Waltzing Matilda because of her habit of stepping from side to side as if she were waltzing. 

On Oct 10th, 1990, at the Alabama Fairgrounds, as a chick, Matilda was purchased by Kieth and Donna Burton for $10.00, from Steve Shaffield of Warrior, Al. 

Kieth and Donna had a Magic Act under the name Mort the Mystifying, and Donna. On June 15th, 1991, Matilda made her debut as part of the act. One of her best tricks was when Mort would magically pull an egg from a supposedly empty cardboard tube, crack it into a pan (without heat under it, of course), and place a lid on top.

When the lid was lifted, Matilda would magically appear in the pan. She was much loved by audiences.

Her magic career lasted for over 14 years, longer than a lot of human ones. Matilda retired in 2004.

On Apr 27, 2004, Matilda was officially accepted into the Guinness Book of World Records as The World’s Oldest Living Chicken. 

After retiring from magic, Matilda became an Ambassador of Goodwill, with appearances on the Tonight Show, the Wet Nose Ball for The Emergency Animal Rescue Service (TEARS), Picasso Pets for Hand in Paw, the Tails and Art Benefit for the Alabama Animal Foundation, and The Blessing Of The Animals at St. Martins In The Pines. 

Matilda was presented the Olivia Beardon Award  by the Greater Birmingham Humane Society on Sept 22, 2005. The Olivia Bearden Award recognizes outstanding achievement in rendering service to another living entity, human or animal. 

How Did Matilda Die?

Matilda retired from all show appearances on Oct 17th, 2005. She passed away on Feb. 11, 2006 from natural causes.

She was 16 years old.  Matilda was laid to rest in an undisclosed place of honor. 

Death wasn’t the end for Matilda. She posthumously received the honor of the Broken Perch Ceremony from the Southeastern Association Of Magicians, and Ring 51 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

The ceremony is based on the Broken Wand Ceremony, first performed at the funeral of Harry Houdini (Eric Weisz)  in 1926. The Broken Wand Ceremony for Matilda was the first time an animal’s contributions had been recognized by the Magicians world. On Sept. 9th, 2006, the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association inducted Matilda into the Alabama Hall of Fame.

Matilda had quite a full life. Most veterinarians attribute her unusually long life to the fact that Matilda was born sterile, and had never laid an egg in her entire life, and never had the stress associated with it.

So maybe they are right when they say, “Relax. You’ll live longer…”. 

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