It’s always great to see an animal live a good long life. When one survives past their life expectancy it’s an achievement worth celebrating.
But it’s especially exciting when one actually becomes the oldest in their species! And recently, that rare honor was bestowed on a penguin who has surpassed all expectations to live to be 41 years old.
The gentoo penguin is fittingly named Olde (which means great-grandmother in Danish). She’s a resident at the Odense Zoo in Denmark.
On October 4, when she was 41 years and 141 days old, she was officially named by Guinness World Records as the oldest penguin in captivity.
According to Guinness, these birds usually only survive up to 20 years in the wild and about 30 in captivity.
But Olde has smashed past that expectancy and is still going strong.
Olde’s advanced age has made her one of the zoo’s biggest celebrities, as well as a favorite of the staff.
“Olde’s popularity has been on the rise ever since we started actually telling the story of her being the oldest of her species,” the zoo’s press social media officer Danni Larsen told Guinness World Records.
“We’re really proud of Olde and the care the zookeepers give to her, as with all our penguins,” she said. “Our zookeepers are professionals and as such they don’t have favourites – but I think it’s safe to say that Olde holds a special place in their animal-loving hearts.”
Despite her fame, Olde stays humble: she is said to be a very calm, quiet penguin who enjoys eating herring.
Olde was born at the Edinburgh Zoo in 1979, and came to the Odense Zoo in 2003.
One of her impressive achievements: she’s a great-great-great grandmother! She’s raised 16 chicks, the oldest of which is now 23.
She can no longer go in the water because her plumage is not watertight, and the staff give her showers instead. But despite her advanced age, Olde is still in good health overall.
“She is looking a bit worn out, and her plumage is not as nice as [in her youth], as she does not have the energy to care for it the same as the others,” said zookeeper Sandie Munck.
“She moves around and eats well, though, so all in all she is fine.”
Olde is one of the few penguins to make it past 40. A female named Tess, who lived at the Peublo Zoo, died in 2015 at the age of 40. There is also a male African penguin said to have been 42.
But now, Olde holds the Guinness-verified world record.
“With more than 41 years under her belt, it’s a pleasure to be able to give the aptly named Olde her moment in the spotlight as the oldest living penguin in captivity,” said the Guinness World Records Managing Editor, Adam Millward.
“I hope the fellow penguins at Odense Zoo give this geriatric gentoo a well-earned clap – or perhaps that should be flap – in recognition of her (literal) lifetime achievement award.”
Congrats to Olde on her incredible honor! Wishing her many more happy years of good health and happiness.