Plastic fantastic: Telford's Exotic Zoo resorts to fake penguins after avian malaria outbreak
Telford's Exotic Zoo has had to fill its new penguin exhibit with plastic replicas because of a shortage of the birds.
An outbreak of avian malaria means that the £60,000 exhibit the zoo has have spent months building will remain empty of the real things for the time being.
Scott Adams, the zoo's owner, said he had no idea when the Humboldt penguins would be arriving.
"We've just timed it really badly," he said.
"Unfortunately over the last couple of years there was a really bad case of penguin malaria that swept through the UK and lots of zoos, if not most zoos, have lost a lot of penguins.
“Now, most of the big zoos are getting their penguins back so any spare penguins that would have come to us from the surplus lists or from the stud books from other zoos are now not available at the moment."
The enclosure, which has been built specifically for Humboldt penguins, cannot be repurposed for other animals.
And staff at the Zoo had already been trained for handling penguins ready for the creatures to arrive.
Scott said many larger zoos are looking to replenish their penguins, which has caused a national shortfall meaning smaller zoos like his will be unable to obtain the birds.
Avian malaria is caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes that invades red blood cells and other tissues, such as the liver, spleen, lungs and brain.
In 2016 an entire population of penguins was wiped out at Exmoor Zoo by a “quick and devastating” outbreak of the disease.