February 6, 2017, Colorado Springs, CO – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is heartbroken to announce the passing of Penny, the African penguin chick that hatched on Dec. 13, 2016. The chick was the first in the Zoo’s history to live past 10 days. Penny was 54 days old when she passed on Saturday evening.

Since her hatching, she had grown to more than four pounds and was nearly the size of an adult penguin. The rate at which penguins grow is remarkable. When Penny was examined after her death by our veterinarian who specializes in birds, we finally discovered Penny was a female. The exam, however, didn’t reveal any obvious information regarding the cause of death. The Zoo is awaiting further tests to try to learn more.

“Everyone here is devastated by the loss,” said Bob Chastain, CEO & president of the Zoo. “When you pour your heart into something that fragile, sometimes your heart gets broken. Our job is to begin again with new information, new partnerships and new skills. We accomplished something significant when we had a healthy chick. We witnessed a miracle when she set a record, and we were captivated by seeing her transform from a tiny chick into a sub-adult.”

Raising a chick to this age was new territory for the Zoo, so animal care and veterinary staff members were in constant communication with African penguin experts around the country. The Zoo closely followed established protocols for chick rearing, and they immediately sought advice when Penny’s health began to fail.

Within the next few months, the Zoo’s penguin flock will move to another AZA-accredited zoo while a new exhibit is built for them here in Colorado Springs. The Zoo believes that providing penguins with a new state-of-the-art exhibit, funded by the “Making Waves” capital campaign, will improve the health of the flock and the viability of chicks in the future. The current exhibit was built in 1959.


About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s ONLY mountain zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s hope that guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Of the 230 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just nine operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues and donations for funding.