Beloved to be the oldest African penguin in the world, uShaka Sea World’s 40-year-old legendary penguin, Dee, died peacefully at age 40.
Dee spent time in the East London aquarium rehabilitation facility after she was found washed up on a beach in the area in 1980, Northglen News reported.
After attempts at reintroducing her to the ocean failed, she was confirmed unreleasable and flown to Sea World in Durban to join its resident penguin colony.
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 uShaka Marine World spokesperson Ann Kunz.
Kunz said the normal age for a penguin to live in the ocean is 12-18 years.