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Fancy a sprat, Pat? Happy birthday to the old girl in Burrow 19!

By GuyHenderson  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

  • Pat and keeper at Living Coasts

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The English Riviera is the home of an official UK champion.

She lives in an exclusive location in Torquay with a toy-boy partner, her own private beach and all the fish she can eat.

Living Coasts, Torquay’s coastal zoo, is home to the oldest-known female African penguin in the UK.

Pat, who is also known by the slightly less romantic title of number 1389, celebrates her 35th birthday on Sunday. She is the second-oldest in Europe.

Living Coasts spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “It shows that the English Riviera is great for us more mature types!” The Zoo has the largest colony of African penguins in the UK.

Pat was hatched at Paignton Zoo in 1978, but this venerable old bird has lived at Living Coasts since it opened in 2003. She has a toy-boy; her partner Eddie was hatched in April 2001 (also at Paignton Zoo), making him just 11. The pair live in Burrow 19.

Keeper Cara Burton said: “Pat has a very distinctive stance with her flippers sticking out. She can be seen by her burrow or down at the public feeds. Eddie likes to preen her and show her lots of affection.

“She is a very sweet penguin, quite happy to approach keepers for fish, and once she has decided she has had enough will head back to her burrow holding a sprat in her beak. At the moment she is freshly moulted. She is a very healthy and happy-looking bird, hopefully she has many more years to come!”

Pat has had nine chicks in her time - she even has three great-grand penguins at Living Coasts. For more information go to www.livingcoasts.org.uk or ring 0844 474 3366.

Read more from Torquay Herald Express

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