One of the many projects currently underway here at the zoo is the upgrade of our Penguin Island habitat to ensure the species has a home here which remains world class for many years to come. We’re looking forward to introducing our Humboldt penguin colony to their new habitat early next year, where they will be able to enjoy a bigger pool with state-of-the-art filtration and renewed nesting facilities.
This is all part of our masterplan for the future of Chester Zoo as we invest £100m between now and 2030 to enhance our position as one of the world’s best conservation and zoological attractions. We are endeavouring to keep everyone informed on the developments as they happen over the coming years and to provide regular updates for any species which is temporarily off show as part of the process.
Since September, the Humboldt penguin colony has been at home in a large off show area, with a stone based beach leading into a pool for the penguins to enjoy. While much the colony is doing well in its new home, we’re incredibly sad to share the news that despite the very best efforts of the teams of vets and keepers, a group of penguins in the colony have died as a result of a parasitic infection. Tests have indicated the presence of a strain of avian malaria – a disease not uncommon among wild birds. This, sadly, is something that strikes both wild and zoo penguin colonies from time to time, usually with devastating consequences. Avian malaria is spread by some species of mosquito and other biting insects. The colony are undergoing preventative treatment with anti-malarials and protected from mosquito bites. The infection cannot be passed on to humans.
Understandably, the teams are devastated by the losses. The rest of the penguins remain well and continue to receive the highest standards of care and attention from the expert bird staff. We look forward to introducing them to their new habitat in 2018, where we will continue to utilise our expertise for years to come to help this species, which is currently vulnerable to extinction is the wild.