Penguins massacred by malaria at beloved Brit zoo as colony sees 70% death rate

A zoo has been left "heartbroken" after a large number of its penguins were struck dead after contracting malaria in the West Midlands.

Dudley Zoo was forced to say goodbye to around 50 penguins, which is about 70% of the colony, after they were hit by the deadly disease.

Officials confirmed that the outbreak had sadly decimated the colony of 69 Humboldt penguins and could not be stopped, reports Birmingham Live.

Zoo Director Derek Grove has since spoken out about the tragedy and said the sudden deaths have caused a "huge loss" at the zoo.

He said: "We are all heartbroken with the huge loss in Penguin Bay and it’s been an especially distressing time for our bird team who have devoted years to their care.

"Their dedication and tireless efforts to care for our penguins over recent weeks has been exemplary.

"They’ve provided round-the-clock care to individually treat the birds in their fight to save as many as possible and we thank them for their determination.

"Having consulted with avian experts and animal collections around the world, we know we’ve done all we can."

Mr Grove added: "Unfortunately, penguins are particularly susceptible to the disease as they do not have natural resistance against it and it’s also not easily identifiable through medical tests.

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"We do not know if last year’s unusual weather pattern has played a part, with wet and muggy weather not only impacting the penguin’s moulting season, but also increasing the risk of mosquitoes, but we now need to focus on continuing to treat the remaining birds and putting in place additional preventative measures to avoid this tragedy happening again."

Dudley Zoo has had great success breeding Humboldt penguins after starting with just five hand-reared chicks in 1991.

It went on to have one of the largest self-sustained colonies in the country, with many penguins helping boost new groups at collections around the country.

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