The 75-gram baby chick was born to two Humboldt penguins brought to the city from Seoul.
Mumbai: The first penguin to be born in India, at Mumbai’s Byculla Zoo, has died within a week, possibly due to anomalies such as liver dysfunction and yolk sac retention, zoo officials revealed to the media Friday. The penguin was born on the night of 15 August and died on the night of 22 August.
The tiny 75-gram baby chick was born to two of the eight Humboldt penguins brought to the city from Seoul in July 2016. Its mother, ‘Flipper’, is the oldest female in the penguin enclosure, while its father is ‘Mr Molt’, the youngest male in the group.
Authorities at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, commonly known as Byculla Zoo, say the death came as a surprise as the baby was doing well and was showing signs of normal health in its early days.
“Both the parents were taking good care of the chick and the chick’s development was proper. However, as a matter of surprise, the chick was found to be sinking,” the zoo said in a statement.
A team of professors from the Bombay Veterinary College in Parel, comprising a pathologist, a microbiologist and an avian specialist, conducted a post-mortem of the chick Thursday morning at the zoo hospital.
“The preliminary examination during the post-mortem revealed that there are newborn anomalies like yolk sac retention and liver dysfunction as a major cause of the unfortunate death of the chick (sic),” read the zoo statement.
At the time of chick’s birth, veterinarians at the zoo had warned that the next three months would be crucial, and much would depend on how the parents were feeding their baby. Officials said that penguin eggs and new-born chicks have a 60 per cent mortality rate due to various reasons such as infertility of the egg, the positioning of the chick inside the egg, failure to hatch on its own, chick deformity, inability of the parents to feed the chick, yolk sac retention, residual albumin and so on.
Flipper had laid an egg on 5 July after mating with Mr Molt in the enclosure created for the Humboldt penguins inside the Byculla zoo. The parents took turns at incubating the egg during the entire 40-week period, with Flipper often going without food for three to four days while incubating it.
Four doctors and three zoo keepers were monitoring the activity right from the breeding to the chick’s birth to its brooding, where the parents take care of the baby as it cannot regulate its own temperature. Besides, the enclosure has several surveillance cameras and there is always a doctor available on site.