26 January 2011

Farewell Ivan

Renée Leeuwner
Photograph by Karin Schwerm

Two Oceans Aquarium Assistant Communications and Sustainability Manager Renée Leeuwner is a keen blogger, a member of the Aquarium’s Green Team and the voice behind our Twitter profile.

My task today is not one that I would have volunteered for under normal circumstances.

It is never easy when an animal dies and when it is one as majestic, regal and charismatic as a king penguin, the heartache seems to be compounded.

There seems to be a moment, just before reality sets in, where you can pretend that nothing happened.

Then you open your eyes and unfortunately the sadness is still there. Ivan, our king penguin, died last Friday night – words that I regret hearing, even more so regret having to say.

This photograph of Ivan was submitted to our official Flickr group by Maitreya 8

Ivan came to us from the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa in Pretoria in January 2009.

I went to the airport with one of our aquarists to fetch Ivan and Jennifer, the other king penguin. I spent hours sitting with them, trying to win their trust and eventually, one day, Ivan came up to me and took food from me. I was ecstatic!

They took some time to settle down, but once they did they spent their days swimming in the outside penguin pool and their nights on the beach in the Sappi River Meander.

Unfortunately, Jennifer passed on just six months after their arrival from suspected lung disease.

Ivan suddenly came into his own right, spending time swimming in the chilly water.

Ivan is snapped swimming. Photo courtesy paulscott56

The morning walks from the Sappi River Meander to the pool were done in record time as Ivan was determined to get into the water.

In the afternoons the Aquarium resounded with Ivan’s beautiful trumpeting as he announced his presence en route back to the beach.

Towards the end of last week Ivan’s health started to deteriorate and on Saturday morning we found him dead.

We are currently waiting for the autopsy results to learn more about what might have caused his death. However, Ivan was more than 20 years old, which is the expected lifespan of a king penguin in the wild.

Photo of Ivan courtesy flowcomm

It always hurts to lose an animal of his stature, so I’m sure you will all join me in honouring Ivan for the gifts he brought to us during his time here at the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Ivan, your trumpeting vuvuzela will be missed by us all.

See some amazing pictures of king penguins in the wild

•    Salisbury Plain part 1
•    Salisbury Plain part 2

More blogs about Ivan:

•    Feathers fit for a king
•    Ivan the amazing
•    King of the deep

More blogs by Renée:

•    A special day for African penguins
•    From Brunei to Bellville, banish rubbish from beaches
•    It’s a fish eat fish world
•    Joseph the cheetah visits the Aquarium
•    Aquarium staff rub shoulders with Leon Schuster!
•    Two Oceans Aquarium: A photo essay

Photo of Ivan courtesy Zodiakk
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