On Friday, December 3, the animal care and veterinary teams humanely euthanized southern rockhopper penguin Enrique, who was almost 30 years old. The median life expectancy for a male southern rockhopper penguin is 25 years. As Enrique aged, he began showing signs of advanced arthritis and age-related changes in his eyes, resulting in decreased vision. To alleviate arthritis discomfort, a special pair of therapeutic support boots provided Enrique with a softer substrate and the ability to move around his habitat with greater ease. Recently, Enrique began showing signs of discomfort that could not be managed with veterinary intervention. Due to a recent decline in health, the Zoo decided to humanely euthanize Enrique.
"Enrique was a patient and gentle bird that had just the perfect mix of spunk and independence. He always had one of the most desirable nests that he tended to with great care. The penguin colony will be a little quieter without his unique call. Enrique's easy going demeanor will be deeply missed by the animal care staff and community," said Marija Elden, Zoological Manager of Birds, Saint Louis Zoo.
Enrique was greatly loved both by the public and his keepers. He was a dynamic part of the bird community at Saint Louis Zoo Penguin & Puffin Coast.
The southern rockhopper penguin is one of two subspecies of the rockhopper penguin. It is estimated that between 1971 and 2007 (three generations), the number of southern rockhopper penguins declined by 34%. They are considered vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Over the past five years, AZA-managed populations of this species has fallen less than 1%.
Penguin & Puffin Coast is home to four species of penguin and two species of puffin. In the world, there are 18 species of penguin, and all are legally protected from egg collecting and hunting. All penguins are flightless and native to the southern hemisphere.
The Zoo supports penguins through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plans and through the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in Punta San Juan, Peru. Through this center, we facilitate the designation of Punta San Juan as a Marine Reserve under the Peruvian Protected Areas System and secure the future of the Humboldt penguin in Punta San Juan.
Visit the Center for Conservation in Punta San Juan, Peru page to learn more.