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Akron Zoo announces the passing of oldest Humboldt penguin in a zoo

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Posted at 12:02 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 12:02:57-04

AKRON, Ohio — The Akron Zoo announced Wednesday the passing its oldest Humboldt penguin, named Emma, at 36 years old. Her care team made a difficult decision last Thursday to euthanize after she was no longer responding to treatment for age-related conditions.

Emma was the oldest, zoo-born female Humboldt penguin in any Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited facility. Median life expectancy for Humboldt penguins is 16.5 years.

Emma had been in retirement since 2013. She was hatched on April 23, 1983 at the Milwaukee County Zoo and arrived at the Akron Zoo in October 2004.

“We are honored to have been part of Emma’s story,” said Doug Piekarz, president & CEO at the Akron Zoo in a news release. “Emma lived 20 years past the median age of Humboldt penguins thanks to the exceptional care she received from the animal and veterinary care teams. Thank you to every staff member who helped care for Emma, contributing to her long life.”

Humboldt penguins are native to Peru and Chili and are currently vulnerable to extinction. The decline in penguins is due to harvesting of guano by local farmers for agricultural fertilizers.

The Akron Zoo is also home to 13 penguins and it continues to participate in a breeding program that creates diverse populations of penguins in accredited facilities across the country.