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63 endangered African penguins killed by swarm of bees

63 endangered African penguins killed by swarm of bees
A group of 63 endangered African penguins was found dead in South Africa after apparently having been killed by a swarm of bees. Photo by TheOtherKev/Pixabay

Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Dozens of endangered African penguins appeared to have been killed by a swarm of bees in South Africa.

South African National Parks, or SANParks, said 63 penguins were found dead at a Colony in Simonstown, near Cape Town, with the deaths occurring sometime between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

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A preliminary investigation suggested the penguins died after being stung by Cape honey bees.

"The post-mortems revealed that all the penguins had multiple bee stings and many dead bees were found at the site where the birds had died," SanParks said.

The post-mortem reports found that the penguins had been stung around the eyes and on their flippers. They had no other physical injuries.

One penguin had been stung 27 times.

"Seeing the number of stings in individual birds, it would have probably been deadly for any animal of that size," Dr. Katta, Ludynia, of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, told the BBC.

National parks officials said it was the first known bee attack at Boulders Beach.

"Usually the penguins and bees co-exist," Dr. Allison Kock, a SANParks marine biologist, said. "The bees don't sting unless provoked -- we are working on the assumption that a nest or hive in the area was disturbed and caused a mass of bees to flee the nest, swarm and became aggressive."

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