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LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Six African penguins at an Indiana zoo have died after getting sick with suspected avian malaria.

The Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette said Tuesday that penguins Chartreuse, Flash, Fozzie, Raspberry, Zing, and Zip died despite round-the-clock care and the use of anti-malarial medications.

Zoo director Neil Dale said the zoo’s three remaining African penguins, Donner, Sagely, and Shazam, also have the illness and are in critical condition.

Avian malaria is a parasitic disease spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes. It only affects birds and cannot be spread to humans.

The zoo said Flash was the first penguin to fall ill, first showing symptoms on Oct. 24. Despite the efforts of the zoo’s veterinary team, Flash died four days later. The other five penguins followed.

The zoo’s Penguin Cove exhibit opened in July after several COVID-related delays.

Dale said the zoo is working to come up with protective measures for the exhibit that would help ward off the illness.

“We know that the community will share in our grief during this incredibly sad time,” Dale said. “The entire zoo staff has been emotionally invested in this penguin colony and has felt the loss of each bird deeply.”