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SeaWorld penguin gets wetsuit because she's losing her feathers

It is not known what causes the disorder first spotted in 2006

Matt Payton
Friday 28 October 2016 17:22 BST
Seaworld penguin gets wetsuit because she's losing her feathers

A penguin has been fitted for a custom swimsuit at SeaWorld Orlando after she began losing feathers.

Wonder Twin, a female Adelie penguin, was unable to regulate her body temperature due her bald spots.

The miniature wetsuit made by the SeaWorld wardrobe department is used to "mimic her former coat of feathers".

Feather loss can occur to penguins in the wild as well as captivity, SeaWorld said in a statement.

An African penguin held at the California Academy of Sciences called Pierre became famous for wearing a wetsuit until his feathers began to grow back. Pierre died a few months ago, aged 33.

A 2015 scientific report into an Antarctic Adelie penguin colony discovered two chicks suffering from feather loss. The pair died a few days later.

They were only ones out of a rockery of more than 100,000 breeding pairs to be affected.

It is not known what causes the disorder, which was first spotted in 2006 in African penguin chicks.

Feather loss has now been recorded in a number of different penguin species.

Andres Barbosa from the Spanish National Museum of Natural Sciences told NBC a leading theory is that feather loss is caused by a viral infection "but this has not been demonstrated yet."

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