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Columbus Zoo announces sudden passing of Humboldt penguin born in March

The penguin, who was named Cecilia, hatched at the zoo on March 20.
Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced a Humboldt penguin born earlier this year suddenly passed away last week.

The penguin, who was named Cecilia, hatched at the zoo on March 20.

According to the zoo, Cecilia began having trouble breathing last Thursday.

The zoo's animal health team was able to get the Cecilia intubated to help her breathe.

While Cecilia initially began to improve, the zoo said she was still unable to breathe on her own when the tube was removed. She was re-intubated and kept on oxygen.

Over the next several hours, Cecilia's condition gradually declined and was showing signs consistent with central nervous system damage.

The zoo said the decision was made to humanely euthanize her.

Today, we are sad to announce the sudden passing of the beloved Humboldt penguin chick who hatched on March 20,...

Posted by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The zoo's team said there weren't any clear answers on her autopsy and tissues will be sent to an outside lab for additional findings.

"Our Animal Care team is taking this loss very hard, as they shared a close bond with Cecilia, the first Humboldt penguin chick our Shores team hand-raised," the zoo said.

Cecilia was being hand-raised due to the avian influenza outbreak in wild bird species, but the zoo said it was not the cause of her decline.

The zoo said Cecilia's name came from some of their favorite office tunes (Foo Fighters’ "Saint Cecilia" and Simon & Garfunkel’s "Cecilia"), and when the Cecilia cooed, it sounded like music to them.

Last month, Cecilia received a brooder box made by a class at The Ohio State University College of Engineering. The bottom slides out completely and the top and front open for easy access and cleaning.

The box will be used for future flamingo chicks or other animals in their care that may be able to use it and dedicating the box in honor of Cecilia.

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