Science Market Update

Colorado State Veterinarians Perform Radiation Treatment on 40-Year-Old African Penguin

Posted by Laura Braden on Wed, Mar 18, 2015

African Penguins like Tess are expected to be extinct in the next 20 years.Movies like "Happy Feet" and "March of the Penguins" often remind us of how cute penguins are in the cold, Antarctic conditions where they live. These movies, however, fail to mention another species of penguin that reside in warmer climates and is slowly dying out: African penguins. Although they are on track to be extinct within the next 20 years, the Pueblo Zoo in Colorado and Colorado State University, Fort Collins recently performed cancer treatments on the oldest living African penguin in the world, ensuring that the penguin will be healthy enough to live a longer life. (Image of African penguin (not Tess) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Tess, a 40-year-old African penguin residing at the Pueblo Zoo in Pueblo, Colorado recently underwent treatment at Colorado State University, Fort Collins to fight skin cancer

A team of veterinarians, interns, residents, staff and students in Fort Collins from a variety of different departments, including oncology, radiology, exotics, and anesthesiology came together to help remove the sarcoma from between Tess's beak and right eye. The team used state-of-the-art technology to perform radiation treatment on this special patient to localize the radiation to one spot without harming any other tissue or organs near the sarcoma. 

Dr. Matthew Johnston, a veterinarian at the Colorado State University Vet Hospital explained that “it’s fun to collaborate to treat a species we rarely get to work with. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase radiation therapy in non-traditional patients.”

Although the effectiveness of the radiation treatment will take a few weeks to gauge, the tumor tissue has already begun to die. Thanks to her treatment in Fort Collins, Tess is able to continue her life at the zoo and provide hope for these penguins to stay in existence. 



(Video courtesy of

Colorado State Universty, Fort Collins is committed to providing medical treatments to both animals and humans. The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences at Colorado State recently received a donation of $42.5 million to help create a new center that will focus on studying regenerative medical therapies for both humans and animals. 


This recent donation is one of many that Colorado State University receives each year to help fund research projects and establish new research centers. In the 2014 fiscal year, Colorado State University, Fort Collins received more than $29 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Departments that received substantial amounts of this funding include: 

  • Microbiology, Immunology, Virology - $8.1 million
  • Biochemistry - $4.5 million
  • Veterinary Sciences - $3.8 million
  • Chemistry - $2.2 million

*Data collected from the NIH RePorter

Colorado State University, Fort Collins is a well-funded research marketplace and provides ample opportunities for life science researchers. Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. hosts an annual BioResearch Product Faire™ Event at Colorado State each year that allows researchers to meet with lab suppliers to discover new products and technologies that will help with their research. 

The next event at Colorado State will be held at the Foothills Research Center on June 15, 2015. This BioResearch Product Faire™ Event allows lab suppliers to market products and technologies to active life science researchers in search of new supplies to use in their labs. To learn more about participating in this event, visit the link below: 

Exhibit at  Foothills  


Tags: veterinary medicine, Southwest, Colorado State University, 2015, BioResearch Product Faire Event, CO, Colorado, CSUFC, CoSTU, African Penguin, radiation therapy

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