Another penguin has died at one of the Calgary Zoo’s most popular attractions.
Asa, a six-year-old King Penguin, was found dead in the exhibit early Sunday morning by zookeepers.
According to officials, she had been battling a respiratory infection since December.
She was being treated with medication and for a brief time, looked like she was going to recover.
“Like a severe type of asthma,” Communications Coordinator Trish Exton-Parder explains. “She got a fungal infection on top of it and was just unable to beat it.”
Necropsy results reveal she died from airsacculitis, a chronic respiratory infection, that was too deeply entrenched to respond to medication.
Veterinary staff believe there may also have been some underlying medical issues that made her more susceptible to becoming sick.
Asa had been a history-maker for the Penguin Plunge as the first bird to lay an egg inside the exhibit; it later proved to be unviable.
She was also a member of the Penguin Walk attraction, until her illness took a turn for the worse in the last few weeks.
“The walk will definitely continue but I’m sure the folks will miss her, the staff already do and I’m sure the penguins do as well,” says Exton-Parder.
“(Asa) used to have quite an entertaining habit of waiting until the right moment to do a couple of circles and gather up a splash of water to send over the top of the exhibit area to catch the kids,” she adds.
It’s the second penguin death in recent months; Fiona, a Gentoo penguin, died from complications after swallowing a large stick in December.
PhD candidate at the University of North Carolina, Rebecca Brasso, has worked with penguins before in zoo-type settings.
She says this kind of infection is known to happen to them because of the sensitivity of their air sacs.
“I’m sure they (the vets) did everything they could,” she adds. “There’s nothing you can do and when you’re in the zoo, you try your best.”
Zoo officials say it’s not a contagious disease and none of their other animals are at risk.