Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Penguin 'ambassador' at Mystic Aquarium dies at 19

By Judy Benson
Published 09/20/2011

Mystic -- A 19-year-old female African penguin named Yellow Red, also known as “String,” died unexpectedly at Mystic Aquarium Friday.

  In an announcement today, the aquarium said String was hatched there on Oct. 4, 1991. Her cause of death is still unknown. An African penguin’s life expectancy is 18 to 20 years in the wild and they can live into their mid-30s in zoos and aquariums, the aquarium said in a news release.

  Because of her curious and calm nature, String was an outstanding contributor to the aquarium’s interactive programming, was the first to participate in a penguin encounter and make a penguin painting, and helped develop the aquarium’s penguin training program that uses tactile reinforcement, the aquarium said. String often appeared at public events and in the media, including appearances on national television.

  The aquarium participates in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan and partners with South Africa’s SANCCOB (The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) to assist in African penguin research and rescue efforts to help prevent population loss.

  The aquarium said its African penguins serve as ambassadors for their wild, endangered counterparts. Over the last six years, the world’s population has decreased by an alarming 60 percent. The public can contribute to the aquarium’s African penguin conservation efforts by visiting on Oct. 8 during African Penguin Awareness Day celebration and by participating in the 5th Annual Penguin Run/Walk on Oct. 15.


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