Respiratory infection claims Asa, one of eight king penguins in exhibit
Asa, a king penguin, died Sunday at the Calgary Zoo. She laid the zoo’s first penguin egg last year and was well known for being a big splashier.
Zoo officials say Asa, a six-year-old female king penguin, died early Sunday after having struggled with a respiratory infection for weeks. A post-mortem exam indicated the infection, called airsacculitis, was so deeply entrenched that the bird would not respond to medication.
“She’s been sick since very early January, end of December,” said zoo spokeswoman Laurie Skene. “The vets had been treating her for weeks.”
Asa was one of eight king penguins in the zoo’s popular Penguin Plunge exhibit, which opened last year. Her death marks the second loss this winter to the exhibit. In December, a gentoo penguin died after swallowing a foot-long stick.
Skene said that with more than 1,400 animals at the Calgary Zoo, deaths are an unfortunate fact of life.
“It’s sad that within a couple of months of each other, we’ve had these two different situations, but certainly they (the two penguin deaths) are quite unrelated,” Skene said. “They both got the best care possible, but sometimes it’s not enough.”
Skene said veterinary staff believe this particular penguin may have had a pre-existing respiratory weakness that predisposed her to infection. Asa had been part of the zoo’s Penguin Walk attraction, but had not participated in weeks due to her illness.
In September, Asa laid the Penguin Plunge exhibit’s first egg, but the egg proved to be unviable and did not result in a chick.