Friday, May 9, 2014

Death of penguin at The Deep 'will not harm five new arrivals'

By Hull Daily Mail  |  Posted: May 07, 2014
By James Campbell
BIG ATTRACTION:  Gentoo penguins at The Deep.  Picture: Peter Harbour
BIG ATTRACTION: Gentoo penguins at The Deep. Picture: Peter Harbour

A PENGUIN that died just weeks after arriving at The Deep was suffering from a bacterial infection. Post-mortem tests have shown the illness is not contagious, so the arrival of five more penguins will go ahead at The Deep later this week.

The bird, called Mike, died just a month after he was revealed to the public at the Hull aquarium. He was one of five penguins, alongside Don, Leo, Rafa and Fiona, who made the journey from Moody Gardens zoo in Texas.

Chief executive Colin Brown said: "The Deep has now received results from the post-mortem examination of Mike the penguin. "All laboratory tests including virology, microbiology and histopathology were conducted by the Government specialist avian pathologists and veterinary surgeons. The post mortem examination identified that Mike had a bacterial infection in his major organ systems. The type of bacteria found produces very damaging toxins, which had caused severe damage to the liver, spleen, heart and kidney to the extent that would make it unlikely the bird would have recovered, no matter what treatment it had received."

But Mr Brown said the tests couldn't reveal exactly when Mike contracted the disease.
He said: "The bacteria identified are free-living bacteria found in water, soil and food. "It is not possible to know when or where Mike had been infected as bacteria of this type can take between one day to over a month to become systemic. "It is therefore not possible to know if Mike had been infected before, during or after his travel. The other penguins at The Deep have been treated as a precaution and closely monitored. Blood samples have been taken, but no sign of infections have been seen. In the light of this, the transport of the remaining birds will take place as planned later this week."

The five gentoos already at The Deep have proved a huge success since arriving in February. The new penguin attraction opened to the public on March 3 and pulled in thousands of extra visitors.
Mike the penguin was in the last few days of his quarantine period when he died on March 19 and had been in his new enclosure since February 19. Mike was known by staff as one of the lively members of the group, renowned for being both playful and active.

The birds helped the aquarium attract almost 11,000 visitors in its first week of opening.After a long and arduous journey from Texas, the five gentoos had settled into their new £650,000 home. The new arrivals will have embarked on the same journey. There were question marks over when they would be brought over in light of Mike's death, but the penguins are due to arrive on schedule.
The penguins' home is based on an old South Georgian whaling station called Grytviken and was designed and mainly built in-house.

Gentoos are the third-largest species of penguin behind the emperor and the king penguins. They are found on islands in the Antarctic region with the main colonies on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Kerguelen Islands. In the wild, gentoos feed mainly on shrimp-like creatures called krill. Fish make up only about 15 per cent of their diet. The female will lay two eggs, but it is unusual for both to survive. Usually the first to hatch is the stronger.  Predators of gentoos include sea lions, leopard seals and killer whales. Gentoos are the fastest underwater swimming bird and they can reach speeds of more than 22mph. The total breeding population of gentoos is estimated to be 300,000 pairs.


No comments: