Mochica, one of the oldest penguins in the world, dies at 31
Zoomen this image toggle caption Shervin Shess/Oregon Zoo Shervin Shess/Oregon Zoo
Mochica, a penguin nicknamed Mochica, charmed visitors for more than 30 years and was an ambassador for the threatened species at Oregon Zoo.
He was a flightless bird with a large persona. He was known as the "elder stateman" of his colony. He was said to have greeted thousands of guests over his lifetime, and preferred the company of people.
He was, however, one of the oldest Humboldt penguins and his advanced years were marked by a decline.
Mochica was unable to see and walk. According to the statement of the zoo, he had a mature cataract in his right eye and an "old-age foge" in his left. He also had bilateral arthritis in both his hips.
Mochica was put to death by officials at the zoo on Saturday. He was 31 years old.
Travis Koons, who manages the bird populations at the Oregon Zoo, stated that Mochica was "the oldest male of his species" in the statement.
Koons said, "His extraordinary longevity speaks volumes about his zest for life as well as the quality of the care he received over time."
He preferred penguins to people.
Mochica, or Mo as he was affectionately known, was born in 1990. He quickly became a people penguin. He loved to greet visitors to the zoo, and he often preferred to spend his time with his keepers than with other penguins in the penguinarium.
Koons stated that it was common for Mo to be 'helping' in the keeper's kitchen or simply hanging out with the care staff.
Mochica's condition deteriorated and the zoo staff began to slip an arthritis drug in his "sustainable-seafood-breakfast" and would organize laser-therapy sessions.
He lived well beyond his expected life expectancy.
Mochica lived over a decade beyond the average, 20-year lifespan of Humboldt penguins.
Guinness World Records says Olde, a female gentoo penguin who was 41 at the time of this April, is the oldest penguin ever kept in captivity.
Koons said that he hopes Mochica will leave a legacy of conservation for Humboldt penguins. There are approximately 12,000 breeding pairs remaining. According to the International Union for Conservation (IUC), Humboldt penguins "vulnerable" and at risk of extinction.
This species is found along the coast of Peru and Chile. It is endangered by overfishing, entanglement with fishing nets, and disruption to its habitat.