Staff at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach are mourning the death of a Magellanic penguin, who died earlier this week after a brief illness.

“Fisher” was born at the Aquarium in 2016 and and became a spirited penguin with a personality described as curious and easy-going.”

“[He] had a sweet and gentle nature about him,” said Brett Long, senior director of mammals and birds at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Fisher, a penguin at the Aquarium of the Pacific, died Aug. 16, 2023 after a brief illness. (Aquarium of the Pacific/Robin Riggs)
Fisher, a penguin at the Aquarium of the Pacific, died Aug. 16, 2023 after a brief illness. (Aquarium of the Pacific/Robin Riggs)

In the last week, the penguin began showing symptoms of lethargy and decreased appetite. He was under close watch by the Aquarium staff, but died on Wednesday.

Testing of Fisher indicated he likely was suffering from an infection of avian malaria, a serious disease in penguins for which all of the Aquarium’s residents are preventatively treated. Fisher also received the year-round preventative medication as a precautionary measure, but breakthrough cases, while uncommon, are known to happen.

A necropsy will be conducted to confirm the suspicions of the Aquarium staffers.

Despite the saddening loss of Fisher, the Aquarium is grateful that the deadly disease is not transmissible between birds and cannot be transferred to people.

Fisher was one of 20 Magellanic penguins that called the Aquarium of the Pacific home. In the wild, they are found in and around the coasts of South America, including Chile, Argentina and Peru. The average lifespan of a Magellanic penguin in the wild is between 10 and 20 years.