Story at a glance:
- There were a total of 63 endangered penguins found dead in Simon’s Town.
- Simon’s Town is a small town near a national park where a colony of penguins live and Cape honey bees live.
- Tests found bee stings around the penguins’ eyes.
More than five dozen endangered African penguins were killed by a swarm of bees outside of Cape Town on a beach.
There were a total of 63 penguins found dead in Simon’s Town, a small town near a national park, where a colony of penguins — and Cape honey bees — live, The Guardian reported.
The penguins were taken for autopsies, where doctors discovered the animals all had bee stings.
“After tests, we found bee stings around the penguins’ eyes,” said David Roberts, a clinical veterinarian with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. “This is a very rare occurrence. We do not expect it to happen often, it’s a fluke.”
“There were also dead bees on the scene,” he told The Guardian.
“The penguins … must not die just like that as they are already in danger of extinction. They are a protected species,” Roberts told The Guardian.
South African National Parks submitted samples for disease and toxicology testing, but “there were no external physical injuries found on any of the birds,” a statement said.
The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds suspects a bees nest was disturbed in the area and said that while bees sometimes sting penguins, this is an unprecedented incident, according to a statement reported by NBC.
African penguins are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list, which means they are close to extinction off the coast and islands of southern Africa.
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