Waddle in peace beloved Dee

BELIEVED to be the oldest African penguin in the world, uShaka Sea World’s 40-year-old legendary penguin, Dee, died peacefully on Tuesday, 4 July.

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

It was estimated that Dee was three years old when she arrived and 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 affection.

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

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.

“It is with heavy hearts that the staff at uShaka Sea World say goodbye to this incredible lady who won the hearts of not only many a male penguin, but the hearts of all who she came into contact with.  May you waddle in peace,” said Ann Kunz, spokesman for uShaka Marine World.

 

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