Penguin recovers from long illness, returns home to Pittsburgh’s National Aviary with mate

PITTSBURGH — An endangered African penguin has returned to Pittsburgh’s National Aviary after a long illness.

The penguin named Dottie fell ill in October. She suddenly became weak, was unable to stand and had labored breathing. It turned out she had pneumonia and a mass in her chest.

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After getting Dottie through the worst of her illness, veterinarians knew that in addition to intensive physical care, she needed companionship to make a full recovery. That’s because penguins are colony birds, meaning they’re used to living in close proximity.

Stanley -- Dottie’s life-long companion named for the Stanley Cup -- was brought in to help. Stanley, too, is an African penguin.

“At first, Stan came for one-hour visits in the ICU each day, which was all Dottie could manage in her weakened state. As Dottie regained her strength, the visits became longer and longer, and eventually Stan moved in to the ICU,” said Dr. Pilar Fish, the National Aviary’s Director of Zoological Advancement and Veterinary Medicine. “Stan worked in tandem with the team who visited throughout the day to encourage Dottie to eat. While our penguin experts would feed Dottie, Stan would sit right next to her, vocalizing and grooming her. When Stan ate, Dottie would take a bite.”

Dottie has now fully recovered and she, along with Stanley, returned to Penguin Point at the National Aviary this week.

People will be able to see Dottie, Stanley and the rest of the penguin colony when the National Aviary reopens July 1.