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Penguin Colony at Dudley Zoo Devastated by Avian Malaria

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: January 9, 2022 1:44 pm

Dudley Zoo Humboldt Penguin Colony

File photo of a Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Dudley Zoo have announced that a devastating avian malaria outbreak has led to the deaths of many of their resident Humboldt penguins. Avian malaria is a parasitic disease transferred by mosquitos and cannot be transmitted to other people or animals by infected penguins.

Zoo officials have not released figures for how many of the 69 birds in the colony passed away following the outbreak.

In a statement Zoo Director, Derek Grove, said: “We are all heartbroken with the huge loss in Penguin Bay and it’s been an especially distressing time for our bird team who have devoted years to their care.”

“Their dedication and tireless efforts to care for our penguins over recent weeks has been exemplary. They’ve provided round-the-clock care to individually treat the birds in their fight to save as many as possible and we thank them for their determination.

“Having consulted with avian experts and animal collections around the world, we know we’ve done all we can.”

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Dudley Zoo have been keeping Humboldt penguins for three decades with no similar incidents recorded. The colony began in 1991 and went on to become one of the largest self-sustaining colonies in the United Kingdom.

Derek added: “Thankfully occurrences like this are rare and in over three decades we’ve never experienced anything like it before.”

“Unfortunately, penguins are particularly susceptible to the disease as they do not have natural resistance against it and it’s also not easily identifiable through medical tests.’

“We do not know if last year’s unusual weather pattern has played a part, with wet and muggy weather not only impacting the penguin’s moulting season, but also increasing the risk of mosquitos, but what we do know is we now need to focus on continuing to treat the remaining birds and putting in place additional preventative measures to avoid this tragedy happening again.”

Learn more about Humboldt Penguins here – Humboldt Penguin Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Dudley Zoo on their website – Dudley Zoo

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