A very special female African penguin named Tess was
recently diagnosed with cancer, which is very unusual for penguins in
captivity. And since African penguins are highly endangered, the keepers at the
Pueblo zoo in Colorado, where Tess is being kept, wanted to provide her with
the best care possible. What makes Tess special is that her age is 40 years,
which is not the case for many African female penguins in the wild, which
usually don't live more than 20 years. Not only has Tess lived double the
normal age of her species, she is also just two years short of breaking the
record of a male penguin.
According to a recent report, Tess, the oldest African penguin in captivity has been recently treated for skin cancer at the Colorado State University Veterinary hospital. Tess had sarcoma on her face, which was present between her right eye and beak. During the treatment, the cancer was shot with a 29-minute, 59-second dose of radiation focused into a tiny, precise beam. The treatment had been so non-invasive that Tess had gone back to the zoo that very evening.
Tess had spent about two weeks in isolation. After treatment, she was reunited with her 33-year-old mate, Mongo and the rest of her habitat friends. Dr. Matthew Johnston, a doctor at the Colorado State University says that, "Some people would ask why you are putting all of these resources into an individual animal. But, if this individual animal can tell a story that helps globally with the African penguin, then it's all worth it". Places like Pueblo Zoo are really important as they have the ability to breed penguins for the next 100 years. Johnston also added that it is important to make people aware about endangered species. Taking right actions can spread awareness about these animals. And because Tess is such a rare exception, keepers at the zoo see her as a beacon of hope for her dwindling species.