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Two king penguins died of old age: Taipei Zoo

The China Post news staff--Old age was the cause for the successive deaths of two king penguins at Taipei Zoo in mid-July, a zoo spokesman said yesterday, citing autopsy results.

Chao Ming-chieh said the penguins had not shown any particularly irregular signs before they died — one on July 11 and the other July 12 — at the ages of 13.5 and 17.5 years, respectively.

The two popular animals died despite emergency treatment given by veterinarians who were called to the scene after zoo workers noticed the two imported animals had trouble catching their breath.

The zoo completed detailed autopsies and examinations of the penguins. They came to the conclusion yesterday that the pair died of old age, with their lungs and other vital organs ceasing to function normally.

Chao said penguins normally advance to the senior stage of their lives when between 10 and 20 years old.

The zoo has ruled out environmental or food problems as the causes of death. Chao said that all of the penguins in the zoo have been provided with a clean living environment, while their food and water are regularly disinfected to prevent them from contracting parasites or viruses.

There are now still 16 king penguins in the zoo, including four over 15 years old and eight between 10 and 15. The four younger ones are under 10.

Officials said that they have decided to add a wider variety of fish to the penguins' diet to give them more calcium to help maintain better physical health.

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