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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Zoo's rare albino penguin is dead
Snowdrop, the albino penguin
Snowdrop was first shown to the public nearly two years ago
A extremely rare albino African penguin chick, which hatched at Bristol zoo in November 2002, has died.

Snowdrop showed no sign of illness, but died mysteriously on Sunday, staff at the zoo said.

It is believed the bird, first shown to the public as a six-week-old chick in December 2002, was the first albino penguin to be hatched at a zoo.

Curator Duncan Bolton said there have only been two recorded sightings of albino penguins in the wild.

Bristol Zoo spokeswoman Heather Hove said Snowdrop's death had come as a shock.

Post-mortem

"Until Sunday afternoon, Snowdrop's keepers had noticed no outward signs of sickness," she said.

"Snowdrop had been experiencing the usual summer moult, during which time it is normal for penguins to be subdued and stop feeding for a short period."

A vet was informed that the bird was in distress at noon on Sunday, but within 10 minutes Snowdrop had died.

A post-mortem examination was due to be held..

In the wild, African penguins live in a small area around the coasts of South Africa.




SEE ALSO:
Albino penguin 'one-in-a-million'
13 Dec 02  |  England


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