Dee‚ believed to be world’s oldest African penguin‚ dies

05 July 2017 - 19:52
By Timeslive
Dee the penguin.
Image: Supplied by uShaka Sea World Dee the penguin.

uShaka Sea World's legendary penguin Dee‚ believed to be the world’s oldest African penguin‚ has died.

uShaka Sea World said that the 40-year-old penguin had died peacefully on Tuesday.

Dee spent time in the East London aquarium rehabilitation facility after she was found washed up on a beach in East London in 1980. After attempts to reintroduce her to the ocean failed‚ she was confirmed un-releasable and flown to Sea World in Durban to join the resident penguin colony.

“It was estimated that Dee was 3 years old on arrival and she wasted no time in forming a relationship with TeaBag the only male penguin in the colony. They formed a formidable duo while they were together and at that time it was generally thought that penguins mated for life. Dee proved the exception to this rule and enjoyed a number of different husbands throughout her life as males repetitively vied for her affections‚” Sea World said on Wednesday.

She “dumped” TeaBag for a younger male named Sizwe whom she remained faithful to until he died. After his death she wasted no time in finding another mate – this time an even younger male named Ocean. They were together for 7 years before he turned his back on her and she found herself at the age of 37 searching once again for a mate. This time she paired with a very protective 3 year old named Larnie who remained her mate until the day she died.

“Throughout her life‚ Dee was the matriarch of the colony and commanded respect from her contemporaries. She “henpecked” her husbands‚ was terribly fussy about the size and texture of her food‚ monopolised the water when she felt like it‚ commanded the uShaka Sea World staff with impunity and was never afraid to claim what she felt was hers.

“Although she was affectionately recognised as a ‘diva’‚ she also had a generous‚ softer more endearing side. She successfully raised 10 chicks‚ was an attentive‚ protective parent who enjoyed cuddles and generously gave away her pebbles and lavender to more needy penguins‚” Sea World said.

Over the past few years Dee was treated for some age-related ailments and slept with Larnie in a specially designed area of the colony away from the noisy youngsters. She was removed from the colony two weeks before she died as her condition appeared to be deteriorating.