The Calgary Zoo is mourning the loss of seven Humboldt penguins.
The Alberta, Canada conservation facility announced the sad news on its website Thursday after the aquatic birds were found dead at the Penguin Plunge exhibit in the morning.
“This is devastating news,” Jamie Dorgan, Calgary Zoo’s Director Animal Care, said in a statement. “We have launched a full investigation so we can try to understand what happened and prevent further incidents like this from happening again.”
Necropsies conducted on the penguins determined drowning as the cause of death. The youngest was approximately eight months old, and the oldest was seven years old.
The penguins were moved to specific holding rooms since Monday due to ongoing work at the exhibit, according to the zoo.
“We are thinking a lot of what the possibilities could be. We are really digging to find evidence,” Dorgan told The Calgary Herald about what happened to the seven penguins. “Right now it seems like something set these birds off, like if one or two birds got into a panic. But, really we are just speculating at this point.”
Adding, “It’s pretty tough. You know, all the animals at the zoo are family members for our staff. Anytime a zoo keeper comes in the morning and finds this type of event, it’s really difficult. We’re obviously very shocked at what happened and had a lot of people were very upset.”
In 2013, multiple penguins, including a three-year-old Humboldt called Junto, died after a bacterial infection swept through the same enclosure.