With great sadness, we have to announce the death of Rosie, thought to be the world’s oldest Humboldt penguin, just a few weeks short of her 33rd birthday.
Rosie passed away peacefully in her sleep on Friday (10 March).
Our Head Zookeeper John Pickering picked up Rosie and her partner Dion, who were both four months old at the time, from Birdworld in Surrey in 1990, and the couple successfully hatched chicks over the years. Along with her companions Dion, Pingu, Penny, she has ensured the lasting popularity of the penguins at the zoo. All were bred in captivity, and have played a vital role in the zoo’s breeding programme since 1990 – Humboldt penguins are classed as vulnerable to extinction in the wild, because of changes in climate and overfishing of their preferred prey species. Life expectancy of Humboldt penguins in the wild is 15-20.
Head zookeeper John Pickering said : “We are all devastated by the loss of Rosie. I myself have been with her since she was four months old and we have spent 32 years of our lives together in one way or another through all of life’s trials and tribulations.
“The rest of the team have always had a very special place in their hearts for Rosie too, as do many of the other staff and visitors who have always enjoyed watching Rosie at feeding time and often asking how she is doing.
“It has been an absolute joy for all of us on the team to look after her over so many years, and to see how she herself has looked after her chicks. It is such a big loss for the zoo and she is going to be greatly missed by all.”
In recent years, Rosie became a star of media and social media across the world. On her 30th birthday in 2020, she was featured on CBS News and ABC News in the USA, as well as Good Morning America.
Her recent birthdays also saw Rosie featured on media and social media in Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. In addition, Rosie was wished a happy birthday by Lorraine Kelly on Good Morning Britain on ITV, was featured in Hello! magazine, and enjoyed coverage in a swathe of publications in all four home nations, as well as more local coverage.
Rosie’s offspring Twinnie, Webster and Flip Flop and her first grandchild, Pickle, can still be seen in the zoo, along with Toby, Pikachu and Sigsbee.
To honour Rosie’s memory, we will be holding a special tribute, and the team are inviting the public to share their memories and photos of Rosie on social media using the hashtag #RememberingRosie.