UK's penguins threatened

 
Published: Monday 15 November 1999

uk's penguin population is being severely hit by a brain disease believed to be linked to an outbreak of bird malaria. All 26 rare penguins at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire have died and Edinburgh Zoo has lost several since the start of the summer. Penguin experts have linked the deaths to a kind of avian malaria which eats into the brain, leaving the birds weak and bringing a speedy death.

"The malaria is spread by other birds carrying infected midges and mosquitoes. We found these insects breeding in the pool," said a spokesperson for Marwell. She said other zoos across the country were preparing to protect their penguins with anti-malarial drugs. London Zoo, which has 41 penguins, said it had lost five birds in the past 15 years to malaria, "but we will be keeping a very close eye out now." Avian malaria also occurs in the wild and especially hits the African birds. The disease is restricted to bird species and cannot spread to humans.

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