Mon, Aug 06, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Penguin deaths were down to birds’ age, Taipei Zoo says amid Web speculation

NOT SO BLACK AND WHITE:There had been much Web-based speculation over the deaths of the animals, which the zoo attributed to a weakness in their fallopian tubes

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Emperor penguins are fed at Taipei Zoo on Dec. 16, 2010.

Photo courtesy of Taipei Zoo

Two emperor penguins at Taipei Zoo died within 48 hours of each other last month, triggering public speculation on the Internet over the cause of their deaths, but the zoo said yesterday that both of the birds had died because of fallopian tube prolapse caused by natural aging.

The zoo said two female emperor penguins, one 13-and-a-half-years old and the other 17-and-a-half-years old, were found with fallopian tube prolapses on July 11 and July 12 respectively and were sent to veterinarians for emergency rescue, but neither could be saved.

After an autopsy ascertained that both had died through oviposition failure — the failure to lay eggs — which is common among aging penguins, the zoo said.

However, suspicions raised over their deaths over such a short timeframe included the suggestion that the zoo had failed to manage hygiene quality adequately at the penguin exhibition.

Seven of the 16 emperor penguins at the exhibition came to the zoo in 2000 and are now considered very old — between 13 to 18 years of age — the zoo said, adding that emperor penguins in the wild have an average life span of just 12 years. It added that although the penguins reared in zoos may have a longer life expectancy, penguins aged 10 and above are considered to be aging.

The zoo said it has asked veterinarians to add calcium supplements to the penguins’ diet in a bid to prevent and reduce the occurrence rate of egg-laying failure.

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