A 9-yr-old female black-footed African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) was presented for necropsy after a history of reproductive abnormalities, paresis of limbs, weakness, and sudden death. Postmortem examination revealed soft keel, collapsed rib cage with beading of the ribs, and bilateral parathyroid enlargement. Classic histologic lesions of fibrous osteodystrophy with osteomalacia were observed in the ribs, vertebrae, and to a lesser extent in the femur and tibiotarsus associated with hyperplasia of parathyroid glands. This represents the first report of nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism in birds of the order Spheniciformes, most likely caused by low levels of calcium supplementation during egg laying. The reproductive abnormalities observed in this penguin and others from the same group (asynchronous egg-laying cycles, abnormal breeding behavior) were most likely exacerbated by the lack of an adequate photoperiod mimicking the natural daylight pattern.
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Vol. 65 • No. 1