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ZOO NEWS

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo's penguins are among oldest in U.S. zoos

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 8:14 pm

Jan. 31, 2013

If you're age 30, you're over the hill … in penguin years, that is. And that's the case for two African black-footed penguins living at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.

Right Red, a female penguin who turns 32 years old on Feb. 16, is the 15th oldest penguin out of 2,000 African penguins living in U.S. zoos, according to records of the International Species Inventory System (ISIS).

Another member of the flock, a male named Left Plum, turned 30 years old on Jan. 30, making him the 30th oldest penguin in a U.S. zoo. (Our penguins are named for the color and location of bands worn on their wings.)

What does old age look like for a penguin?

"Right Red has arthritis, and she receives meds to control pain," says zookeeper Kasey DeLucenay. "She also has trouble molting (shedding old feathers), so she looks a little scruffy."

Right Red and her mate, Left Red, who died in 2011, were devoted to one another and raised three chicks together. "They had a very strong bond with each other," says DeLucenay.

As a birthday treat, Right Red and Left Plum received a towering "cake" made of fish and ice, which they shared with the rest of the flock. A big thank you to the zookeepers who provide excellent care to our "elderly" penguins!

Get involved!

Did you make a New Year's resolution to get more involved in your community? The zoo is the place for you! Check out these upcoming opportunities:

*Volunteer Opportunity Fair, 6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 8, http://kidszoo.org/events/volunteer-opportunity-fair/.

*Z-TEAM Teen Volunteer & Leadership Program, application deadline is Feb. 28, http://kidszoo.org/support-the-zoo/volunteering/teen-volunteers/.

*FrogWatch Training, 11 a.m. -3 p.m., http://kidszoo.org/support-the-zoo/volunteering/family-and-group-volunteering/.

*Zoo Employment: See job openings and information on our upcoming Job Fair, which will be held March 9, at http://kidszoo.org/about-the-zoo/employment-opportunities/.

Cheryl Piropato is education and communications director for the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.