Malaria has killed 70% of the UK zoo’s Humboldt penguins, and the outbreak is still going on.
An outbreak of avian malaria has killed more than two-thirds of one of the UK’s largest Humboldt penguin colonies.
The disease has killed around 50 of the 69 birds at Dudley Zoo in the West Midlands, according to staff.
The deaths have left the staff devastated.
“We are all heartbroken with the huge loss in Penguin Bay,” zoo director Derek Grove said.
“It’s been a particularly trying time for our bird team, who have spent years caring for them.”
On Saturday morning, a zoo spokesperson told PA news that the situation was “still ongoing.”
Nearly three-quarters of the colony had died by that time.
The zoo’s staff is battling the outbreak alongside veterinary experts.
They haven’t been successful yet.
Avian malaria, which cannot jump from animals to infect humans, is particularly dangerous to penguins.
Infected mosquito bites are used to spread the disease.
The zoo said the surviving birds are being treated and that measures are being taken to prevent another outbreak.
Mr Grove explained that penguins do not have a natural resistance to the disease and that it is difficult to detect on tests, making the situation more difficult to manage.
“Thankfully, such occurrences are uncommon, and we’ve never seen anything like it in over three decades,” he added.
“We don’t know if last year’s unusual weather pattern played a role, as wet and muggy weather not only affects the penguin’s moulting season but also increases the risk of mosquitos,” says the researcher.
“However, we do know that we must now concentrate on continuing to treat the remaining birds and putting in place additional preventative measures to prevent this tragedy from occurring again.”
The zoo in the West Midlands claims to have had a successful breeding program for more than three decades.
In 1991, there were only five of them.
According to the zoo, it grew to be one of the country’s largest colonies.
Humboldt penguins are native to South America and can be found along the coast in areas where the Humboldt current can reach.
They were named after Alexander Von Humboldt, a German scientist who traveled around the region in the eighteenth century.