- The first known penguin being aggressively treated for cancer died at
the Newport Aquarium earlier this month, but the skin cancer was not
what led to Tica's demise.
Aquarium officials say they had to put down the 16-year-old
chinstrap penguin Feb. 11 after he could no longer eat, stand or swim
because of a degenerative spinal disease.
disheartening," said aquarium spokesman Rodger Pille. "Everyone around
had a lot of faith and were really excited that it looked like we were
doing a really good thing, then to find this other ailment, it was
• Photos: Tica in treatment
staffs at zoos and aquariums nationwide had been paying close attention
to treatment of Tica, a two-foot-tall, 8-pound penguin.
reports showed it looked like those treatments were successful," he
said. "The size of the tumor and the infection went down considerably,
we were really encouraged."
The penguin received 17 radiation
treatments, said Peter Hill, director of veterinary services at the
aquarium. Two weeks later, doctors noticed Tica was having trouble
In a CT scan, Hill found a lesion on Tica's spinal cord
that was causing his vertebrae to disintegrate. Hill suspects that it
was a cancerous lesion, but the pathology is not back yet.
Hill doesn't think the potentially cancerous lesion was related to the skin cancer. "It
was quite a surprise to see this develop shortly after the end of the
radiation therapy," he said. "We consider the radiation therapy a
success ... this was a secondary problem that he may have had
developing all along that we were just unaware of."
became paralyzed. Staff at the aquarium built a bouncy seat that
allowed Tica eat standing up, but ultimately the animal had to be put
down, Hill said.
"We determined that that quality of life was not something that he should have," Hill said. "He was in hospice care for short time and then we elected euthanasia."
cancer was first discovered in September when trainers noticed an
abscess on Tica's tail, in the preen gland. It was found to be squamous cell carcinoma - skin cancer. Officials said Tica was thought to be the first penguin to be getting aggressive treatment for cancer.
"We have to remember that Tica has already contributed greatly to the scientific community
worldwide," Pille said. Because of the publicity surrounding Tica's
treatment the aquarium was getting calls from zoos and aquariums all
over the world.
Tica's case will give veterinarians insight into
problems in aging penguins, Hill said. He anticipates journal articles
and other studies of Tica's case.
"Tica is quite a hero here," he said.
who arrived at the aquarium in Nov. 20, 2008, was the first chinstrap
penguin - known for the black line under the neck - hatched in the
United States to live to adulthood. Tica was born in the Central Park Zoo in New York.
His father is Porkey, also at Newport. He had six offspring before he arrived in Newport.Enquirer reporter Mark Curnutte contributed.Source
The Penguin Camera is located on Torgersen Island (64°46’S, 64°04’W), off the coast of Anvers Island and less than a mile from Palmer Station. Torgersen Island is home to a colony of Adélie penguins numbering approximately 2,500. This camera is seasonal and operates primarily from October to February, the Adélie breeding season. The camera is solar-powered and may sometimes experience brief outages due to inclement weather. School classrooms and other educational demonstrations will often take control of the camera, moving it to gain better views of the colony.