Most of the 63 penguins were found dead with bee stings around their eyes and dead bees were found at the site at Simonstown near Cape Town, South Africa
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More than 60 endangered African penguins have been killed after a swarm of bees attacked them.
The 63 protected birds from a colony in Simonstown near Cape Town were found with multiple bee stings – with most being attacked around the eyes.
Vet David Roberts said: “This is a very rare occurrence. We do not expect it to happen often, it’s a fluke.”
The specialist, who works for the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob), said dead bees were also found at the scene.
A spokesman for South Africa’s national parks agency said: “Samples are still being tested for other toxicity possibilities and diseases to rule out any other potential cause.”
African penguins are distinctive for their small size, and live on the coast and islands of South Africa and Namibia, but some have been spotted as far north as Gabon.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says these penguin populations are rapidly declining, it is thought this is mainly due to commercial fishing and what it calls “environmental fluctuation”.
A dead penguin was also found on Friday on nearby Fish Hoek which had also suffered multiple bee-stings, according to SANParks.
The national body said in a statement that it would continue to monitor the situation.
Back in 2020 an endangered African Penguin named Dottie made a miracle recovery thanks to the zoo where she lived moving in her soul mate.
Dottie was unable to stand, found it hard to breathe and became extremely weak.
Alarmed medics rushed her to intensive care, where they discovered she was suffering from pneumonia and a painful mass in her chest.
The bird, who lives at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, US, was given antibiotics to help her recovery – but workers feared she would not pull through.
Desperate for anything which could help her back to health, they called on her lovesick soulmate to lend them a hand.
Dottie and partner Stanley were usually inseparable, and vets thought that bringing him to her side would give her a boost.
Stanley was first brought in for an hour a day when she was most poorly, but was gradually able to spend more time with Dottie.
Very soon he was visiting throughout the day to encourage her to eat.
The National Aviary’s director of veterinary medicine, Dr Pilar Fish, told KDKA: “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.
“Stan worked in tandem with the team who visited throughout the day to encourage Dottie to eat.”
Dr Fish said Stan would sit with Dottie as penguin experts fed her – and keepers believe the companionship helped her make a full recovery.