Dory, the one-and-half-year-old female Humboldt penguin that died at the Byculla zoo last week, had a severe bacterial infection that led to septicemia, or bloodstream infection.
The results of a post-mortem by the Bombay Veterinary College, Parel, that was released on Monday, also showed the bird’s respiratory and circulatory system was choked.
Officials from the Byculla zoo said there were no specific reasons for the infection and the chances of it spreading to the other seven birds were low. “The remaining birds are healthy and they are eating normally,” said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, the zoo director.
“While the autopsy report establishes the presence of bacterial infection, there is no specific cause for the development of such bacteria. However, it is clear the bacteria had harboured in the penguin’s intestines, and it has nothing to do with food poisoning,” Dr Tripathi said. “The infection could have been triggered by dysfunctional organs in the bird’s body.”
Some veterinarians, however, said there was a threat to the other penguins. “Most animals at the Byculla zoo have a history of getting bacterial infection,” said Dr Yuvraj Kaginkar, secretary of Myvets charitable trust and research centre. “The bacteria mostly spread from the lungs and the food. It could have been caused while the birds were transferred from other cages in the zoo or because the cold weather conditions created at the quarantined area did not match their original environment at Seoul, South Korea.”
The post-mortem report said, “The trachea was congested, air sac appeared thickened and cloudy, and all lobes of lungs were congested with frothy exudates oozing out...”
“Lung inflation is a clear sign the infection was spread through air-borne particles the bird inhaled, and it may have entered within the confined space she was kept in,” said a city-based veterinarian who did not wish to be named. “The infection then spread to different parts of the body that ultimately led to her death.”
The report also revealed the bird’s liver was enlarged and discoloured at places and the stomach had undigested food — all signs of bleeding underneath the skin.
“A detailed investigation (bacteriological and histopathological) is in progress and we will get the results in a few weeks,” Dr Tripathi told HT.