A Gentoo penguin has died at the Calgary Zoo after swallowing a wooden stick it found inside it’s enclosure.
The news was revealed to the Calgary Sun this week, more than two months after the incident.
The penguin died as a result of complications from surgery, autopsy results found an abscess in her esophagus.
It’s the second confirmed death of a bird at the zoo, after a Great Grey Owl became trapped in a connecting gate and died while it was being transferred.
There’s no word yet as to how the penguin found the stick and how it wound up in its environment.
Dr. Steven Emslie with the University of North Carolina chalks it all up to an unfortunate accident.
The marine biologist, whose made a career out of working with Gentoos, tells 660News the birds are naturally curious and playful.
“It was probably picking it up and somehow accidentally swallowed it,” he says. “It may have been thinking it was perhaps food because they feed the penguins with food on the ground there.”
He admits while he doesn’t have all the facts, he believes it could have been at the zoo or in the wild.
“Unless it happened again, I wouldn’t really be concerned about it and I think it was just unfortunate that the stick got in there and the penguin got it in a way that swallowed it,” he says.
At this point zoo officials aren’t saying much as to why there wasn’t a public announcement.
Communications Manager Laurie Skene tells the Sun, handlers mention it from time to time with visitors who walk through the exhibit.