Officials at the Dudley Zoo and Castle are reporting a huge loss of Humboldt penguins due to the parasitic disease, Avian malaria.
The malarial infection killed 50 of the 69 penguin colony.
Zoo Director, Derek Grove, said: “We are all heartbroken with the huge loss in Penguin Bay and it’s been an especially distressing time for our bird team who have devoted years to their care.
“Their dedication and tireless efforts to care for our penguins over recent weeks has been exemplary. They’ve provided round-the-clock care to individually treat the birds in their fight to save as many as possible and we thank them for their determination.
“Having consulted with avian experts and animal collections around the world, we know we’ve done all we can.”
Avian malaria is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Plasmodium and transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitos. Affecting only birds, this form of malaria is not transmissible to humans or other zoo animals. It is also not transmissible from bird-to-bird. Penguins are considered particularly susceptible to the disease, and instances of the disease in captive populations often lead to high mortality.