When Penelope, the duck-billed platypus, mysteriously escaped from her platypusary in New York's Bronx Zoo last summer, she became the first platypus in the U.S. outside captivity. The only other platypus in the U.S. remained in captivity, in the very platypusary where Penelope was wont to waddle. He was Cecil, 12, Penelope's intended. With Penelope gone (TIME, Aug. 19), not even the desperate search by a platyposse could trace her; regretfully she was given up for dead.
Cecil kept a stiff upper bill. Then he began to lose weight. Normally he tipped the scale at 3.4 or 3.8 Ibs., but he dropped to 2.3 Ibs., and his appetite for crayfish, worms, coddled eggs and frogs declined. Whether Cecil was lonely for Penelope nobody could tell, for most platypuses are somewhat phlegmatic anyway (exception: saucy Penelope, who perhaps left Cecil for that very reason). Last week Cecil died. Zoo officials performed an autopsy, concluded that old age had killed him. Sentimental newspapers (including the august New York Times) said that Cecil's heart was broken. If it were true he never let on, being the phlegmatic sort.