Mochica, one the oldest Humboldt penguins in the world, was suffering from various age-related conditions before the Oregon Zoo decided to humanely end his life on Saturday
Mochica, one the oldest Humboldt penguins on the planet, has passed away. He was 31 years old.
Mochica, a beloved resident at the Oregon Zoo, turned 31 in July. Most Humboldt penguins live to 20. “It’s an incredibly sad day for his care team and for everyone who spent time with this amazing bird,” Travis Koons, who oversees the Oregon Zoo’s bird population, said in a statement.
Koons said that animals have made an indelible impression on people’s hearts at times in their lives. “Mochica has done this for thousands of people. He was an inspiration to generations.”
According to a statement, Mochica was treated by the zoo’s staff for several ailments over the years.
Koons said that he had a mature cataract, an old-age haze and bilateral arthritis in his hips. He was a very elderly bird. He was unable to see well and he struggled to walk.
Mochica was not comfortable. Staff tried everything, including adding medication to his breakfast and scheduling laser-therapy sessions. However, Mochica’s condition began to deteriorate. On Saturday, the zoo’s veterinarian and care staff made the hard decision to humanely kill the penguin.
Mochica, a penguin that was born at the Oregon Zoo July 6, 1990, prefers the company of humans to fellow penguins. He often chooses to spend his time in the keepers’ quarters rather than the Penguinarium. Koons said Mochica was one of the zoo’s “greatest ambassadors,” greeting thousands of guests on behind-the-scenes tours over the years and helping raise awareness of the Humboldt penguin, which has been declared a “vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Humboldt penguins are native to South America’s coasts of Chile and Peru. They have an estimated 12,000 breeding pairs. Overfishing their prey species and entanglement with fishing nets all threaten the stability the wild Humboldt penguin community.
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ACOREMA, a Peru-based conservation group, has been supported by the Oregon Zoo in the past. They monitor the Humboldt penguins’ mortality rate and work closely with San Andres’ fishermen on curbing the practice of hunting them for food. Koons also recommends the Seafood Watch app to help consumers choose sustainable seafood and conserve the penguins’ ecosystem.