Six of nine Columbian Park Zoo penguins die from suspected avian malaria

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Columbian Park Zoo has introduced that 6 of their nine African penguin inhabitants have died soon after a devastating fight with what appears to be avian malaria.

The remaining three penguins, Shazam, Sagely, and Donner, are in crucial ailment.


“Avian malaria is a single of the most major triggers of mortality in penguins, with fees as superior as 50-90 %,” stated Zoo Director Neil Dale. “Despite the most effective efforts of our veterinarian and team, who furnished all over the clock treatment administering anti-malarial medications and other intensive care steps, we ended up not able to halt the development of the bacterial infections.”

In accordance to the zoo, avian malaria is a parasitic ailment induced by the protozoan Plasmodium and transmitted through the chunk of contaminated mosquitos. The illness is not transmissible to human beings or other zoo animals. It is also not transmissible from chook to hen.

Penguins are deemed particularly vulnerable to the condition, and instances of the condition in captive populations frequently direct to high mortality.

Zoo Assistant Director Caitlin Laffery said the penguins ended up presented preventative medicine and there was mosquito abatement in advance of the birds arrived to the zoo.

“We had been well prepared for it,” Laffery mentioned. “Just, sadly, our preventative actions were not ample.”

The Columbian Park Zoo mentioned on Oct. 24, the African penguin, Flash, commenced exhibiting signs of health issues, prompting a veterinary evaluation and a collection of checks to identify the trigger of sickness.

Regardless of endeavours to preserve him, Flash’s ailment deteriorated fast and he was observed deceased by animal treatment staff members on the morning of Oct. 28. Next this incident, a necropsy (animal autopsy) was executed but returned with inconclusive final results.

Having said that, on Nov. 2, a blood take a look at returned with a favourable result for exposure to Plasmodium.

As soon as the condition was suspected in just the colony, Dale said that the Columbian Park Zoo staff members used a wide assortment of resources, like consulting authorities throughout the region relating to cure.

The crew worked with Indiana Animal Sickness Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue College and community specialists as properly.

“We’ve been consulting with veterinary experts from some of the main zoos in the country to make certain that we are carrying out almost everything doable to ideal handle our birds,” explained Laffery.

“We are really privileged to work in a occupation wherever know-how and knowledge is shared so freely and to have means like Purdue’s Indiana Animal Condition Diagnostic Laboratory ideal in our backyard,” she extra.

Given that Flash’s loss of life, the remaining eight penguins started exhibiting signs or symptoms of health issues, to varying degrees of severity.

Five added penguins have because died, together with Raspberry, Zing, Chartreuse, Fozzie, and most lately, Zip, who was located deceased by animal treatment team on the early morning of Nov. 28. Avian malaria indications involve weak point, lethargy, and decline of appetite.

Treatment includes anti-malarial medications, fluid and dietary guidance, as effectively as prophylactic remedy to ward
off opportunistic secondary bacterial infections, to which penguins are specially prone.

Avian malaria is existing in the North American wild chicken populace, and poses a acknowledged danger for penguins in human-managed options these kinds of as zoos.

Despite the fact that devastating occurrences in zoos are reasonably unusual when publicity reduction tactics are utilized, it is challenging to eradicate or protect against exposure though exhibiting penguins outdoor in this geographical location.

“We’ve been functioning around the clock to help save as a lot of birds as achievable,” said Heather Woody, Head Zookeeper. “Our animal treatment group is definitely heartbroken that one thing like this transpired just after all the months of difficult work and planning, but our target now has to be on accomplishing anything we can to help our penguins.”

Originally slated to open up in spring of 2020, the Penguin Cove exhibit opened to the public on July 30, 2021. The exhibit knowledgeable numerous COVID-19 relevant job delays as well as an more vacation hold off this spring as the penguins went as a result of a molting method.

The new show was funded by the City of Lafayette and generously supported by Don and Lois Stein and relatives by a reward to the Lafayette Parks Foundation.

Hunting to the long run, Dale claimed the Columbian Park Zoo is functioning with the Penguin Cove exhibit’s original structure crew to occur up with added protective measures for the show.

Additionally, the zoo team is continuing to consult with experts in the industry pertaining to other preventative actions that may perhaps be taken
to ward off upcoming exposures.

“We know that the neighborhood will share in our grief throughout this extremely sad time. The entire zoo staff has been emotionally invested in this penguin colony and has felt the decline of each fowl deeply,” said Dale, who described that playing cards of help for the zoo staff can be directed to the Zoo’s mailing handle at 1915 Scott St, Lafayette, IN 47904