ALBUQUERQUE, N.M (KRQE) – It was a sad day for zoo visitors who were shocked to learn a penguin has died just weeks after arriving in Albuquerque. It was supposed to be a part of the highly anticipated Penguin Chill Exhibit at the BioPark. “I really like penguins, honestly. So, I was kind of excited,” says Rhianna Dawson.
It’s no secret that people in Albuquerque are excited about the upcoming Penguin Chill Exhibit at the BioPark. “I was pretty hyped for it, you know? It’s been a long time that they’ve talked about it,” says Donovan Bland.
Now, BioPark officials say one of those penguins has died. Zoo staff say a male King Penguin named James, passed away on Thursday after they noticed he was losing weight and had lost his appetite.
He was one of 32 penguins who arrived at the BioPark last month, from San Diego and Orlando. Today, visitors expressed their sadness over the loss. “It’s very sad to lose any animal that’s been transported this far for us to look at,” says Millie Adams.
It was especially hard for visitors who have been waiting for the penguins’ debut. “I’ve been bugging to go to the zoo for a while and I was super excited to see them and my grandma was like, one of them died and I was like how?! No!” says Rhianna Dawson.
The BioPark has not said if this would further delay the Penguin Chill Exhibit’s scheduled opening date set for next month. Visitors say if there is a delay, it’s worth the wait to keep all of the remaining penguins healthy.
“They absolutely need more time. I mean, they’re coming in the middle of the summer, new environment. Any animal can be stressed,” says Millie Adams.
“We should wait to see how they are adjusted and see how the rest of them do before pulling them out,” says Raven Dawson.
Zoo staff says the 31 remaining penguins are doing well. The zoo has a press conference scheduled for tomorrow afternoon where we expect to learn more about what happened.