Oldest, “one-of-a-kind,” Magellanic penguin at San Francisco Zoo dies at age 40

At 40-years-old, give or take, Captain EO was the oldest Magellanic penguin at the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens — and as far as anyone knows, one of the most senior penguins living in captivity anywhere in the world.

The zoo shared the sad news about the “legendary” penguin’s death last week.

“At an estimated 40 years of age, he was one of the oldest penguins living under human care,” the zoo tweeted. “He arrived to #SFZoo in 1984, with 51 others, who were founding members of a new colony & he was the last of the members.”

Typically the species, which is native to South America, lives between 20 and 30 years, according to the zoo.

Captain EO was named for a 1980s Michael Jackson short film that was a Disneyland attraction.

Recently, Captain’s age was really showing and he needed special care.

Since he lost most of his eyesight and hearing, just feeding him needed some extra TLC.

“This included devising special feeding techniques as the penguins were normally hand-fed in a group manner,” the zoo explained. “Here, animal care staff would kneel and place their arm around him as a barrier and feed him in a way that allowed him to eat comfortably in a crowd of hungry penguins.”

Quinn Brown, assistant curator of birds, who worked with Captain for more than 20 years, is left fondly remembering the penguin who will never be forgotten.

“While many of the penguins here have personalities that are endearing and even comical, Captain was admired for having a personality that was more of an older sophisticated gentleman,” Brown said in a statement.

“He was a dedicated partner to his long-time mate, a defender of his burrow and with animal care staff, he did not partake in the usual shenanigans of stealing fish from others, or pushing his way through the crowd for fish. Instead, he would quietly and politely sit on the rocky beach and wait his turn for his meal, then go out for a swim or home. He was one-of-a-kind.”

Captain’s legacy lives on at the zoo — and other accredited facilities around the country.

He has 26 offspring, 31 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“We will miss you, Captain!” the zoo added.

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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