The first Humboldt Penguin chick in the country that hatched at the Mumbai Zoo on August 15, died of a health complication on August 22, The Times of India reported on Friday. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had announced its birth on Independence Day at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan Zoo. The species is native to Peru and Chile in South America.
A team of doctors from the Bombay Veterinary College conducted a postmortem and attributed the cause of death to “newborn anomalies including a yolk sac retention and a liver dysfunction”, the newspaper reported. The statement said the chick’s mother Flipper and father Molt were taking good care of the chick. Flipper is the oldest penguin at the facility while Molt is the youngest.
The veterinary team’s statement said the zoo had provided a conducive environment for the chick and penguins at the facility and quoted references to a 60% mortality rate for penguin chicks.
In July 2016, eight Humboldt Penguins were imported from Coex Aquarium in South Korea’s Seoul. They were later named Dory, Donald, Daisy, Popeye, Olive, Bubble, Flipper, and Mr Molt. After Dory’s death in October last year, the zoo has four female penguins and three male penguins, and six of them have already paired up. Flipper, the oldest female penguin in the zoo, mated with Mr Molt in captivity to produce an egg in July.
The penguins stay in a special chilled enclosure, with the nest also kept there. Spread over 1,700 square feet, an average temperature of 16 to 18 degrees Celsius is maintained in the enclosure. Zoo officials constantly monitor the quality of water inside and the birds are fed on fish, including Indian mackerel.
The Rs 64-crore project – spearheaded by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray – had come under massive criticism after Dory’s death due to an infection. Zoo authorities later claimed that the entire exhibit area had been disinfected and that they repeatedly conducted tests to check for and prevent infections. But animal rights activists in Mumbai later filed a police complaint, alleging negligence by zoo authorities and demanding that the death of the 18-month-old penguin be investigated.
Earlier, animal welfare activists had also strongly opposed the zoo’s move to procure the penguins, expressing their doubts about whether its authorities had the expertise to care for them or provide them with the required living conditions.