Mall Penguin Turns The Big 3-oh

The Penguin Post is happy to report that West Edmonton Mall Marine Life workers threw the birthday bash of a lifetime Saturday for their beloved African penguin Mulder, who’s 30th birthday was celebrated in honor of African Penguin Awareness day, a global initiative started as a way of highlighting the plight of this vulnerable species.  The birthday boy made a special appearance above sea level, to greet fans and dive into some birthday cake, (herring for the aquatic bird, chocolate for birthday guests).  “We just can’t believe he’s 30 years old,” said Marine Life manager Kim Pelechaty. “We’re so excited to be able to celebrate his life, he’s definitely a special penguin.” Pelechaty said it’s rare for penguins to live 30 years in captivity, and even more so in the wild. And she said we’re to blame. “It’s actually worse for them out there,” she explains. “Because of habitat encroachment, oil spills, over fishing and even poaching, African penguins are disappearing rapidly.” The Sea Life Caverns, a popular tourist stop at West Edmonton Mall, houses 22 penguins in total, along with seven sting rays, three green turtles and a whole lot of fish.  Mulder, the oldest penguin at the mall, moved here in the 1980s from Granby Zoo in Quebec.  He has fathered one baby penguin, named Yettie, and spends most of his time with his girlfriend Sid, a fellow African Penguin in her 20s.  “The reason he has lived so long comes down to quality of life,” said Pelechaty. “He’s happy.” Pelechaty, who has been working with Mulder since 1998, said she hopes the birthday party raised awareness about African penguins. “In the last 100 years, African penguin populations have declined by 90%,” she explained. “That’s our fault, but we can fix it.” West Edmonton Mall is a member of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums and has been participating in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan since 1986. For more information on African Penguin Awareness Day visit arkive.org/african-penguin.com.

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