Enrique, the St. Louis Zoo Penguin Famous for Wearing Therapeutic Boots, Has Died


LOUIS — Enrique, a St. Louis Zoo southern rockhopper penguin who waddled his way to social media fame for a specially made pair of boots he wore to ease his arthritis, has died, zoo officials announced Wednesday.

The zoo also announced the death of its adult male Amur tiger, Waldemere, also known as Waldo, after he suffered a brief but serious illness. He died in his sleep on Sunday.

Enrique was euthanized Friday because of a recent decline in health "that could not be managed with veterinary intervention," the zoo said in a blog post. Enrique was almost 30 years old, and the median life expectancy for a male penguin of his type is 25 years.

"Enrique was a patient and gentle bird that had just the perfect mix of spunk and independence. He always had one of the most desirable nests that he tended to with great care. The penguin colony will be a little quieter without his unique call. Enrique's easygoing demeanor will be deeply missed by the animal care staff and community," Marija Elden, the zoo's manager of birds, said in the post.

Enrique was having vision problems due to his age, and last year, his caregivers tried to figure out ways to alleviate discomfort in his feet due to arthritis. It was hard for Enrique to get around because of calluses, which happen because of arthritis, and topical creams and sprays washed off in the water. The zoo had a pair of rubber boots made for him by a company that specializes in boots for cats and dogs.

Waldemere was 18 1/2  years old, the oldest living male Amur tiger in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. He had recovered from the virus that causes COVID-19, along with several other big cats at the zoo.

A necropsy showed malignant cancer cells that appeared to have affected many of his organs, the zoo said. His mate, Kalista, died in March, and at 19 years 10 months old, had been the oldest female living Amur tiger within the species survival plan. She was euthanized after being treated for age-related degenerative joint disease for several years.

The zoo has one other Amur tiger, a female named Reka, who is 3 years old and moved to the zoo in November.


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