November 20, 2019

Penguin Mickey Celebrates 35th Birthday

with an ice-block cake filled with her favorite foods


(Pittsburgh) (November 2019)— The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s macaroni penguin, Mickey, is now part of a unique club. At 35 years of age, Mickey is now ranked as one of the oldest living penguins in the United States.

The normal life span for a macaroni penguin is 15 to 20 years in the wild, but they can live into their mid-thirties in zoos.

“Despite her age, Mickey is doing well,” says Jessica Ries, Penguin Keeper. “She still loves to swim which is a good indicator of fitness.”

Mickey has always been a maternal figure to the younger penguins and will often step in as a “chick sitter” when needed.

Mickey’s calm demeanor has made her a fan favorite of the Penguin Wild Encounter program and educational classes.

“She likes the attention and doesn’t mind being around people,” says Ries. “She is patient and is glad to sit quietly through the classes.”

To celebrate Mickey’s big day, keepers will give her an ice-block cake filled with her favorite foods such as smelt and capelin, plus other favorite goodies.

Fun facts:

  • Mickey was born in 1994 and arrived in Pittsburgh in 2003.
  • She shares a birthday with Mickey Mouse.
  • Macaroni penguins are named after the 18th-century fashion style of English gentlemen who wore bright yellow feathers in their hats. The macaroni’s yellow feathers on their head are similar to the hat feathers, hence their name.
  • All 18 species of penguins are now listed as vulnerable due to loss of habitat and ecological disasters such as pollution and oil spills.