Doomed Platypusary

There were platypuses in the Bronx Zoo in those days; three of them, to be exact. On April 25th, 1947, Cecil, Penelope and Betty Platypus were brought to the zoo by David and Sigrid Fleay and took up residence in a custom-designed platypusary (newsreel video below). However, their stay was ultimately star-crossed and rather brief; no platypuses of renown or obscurity were ever seen at the Bronx Zoo, or at any other American zoo, since then.

Betty died of cold shortly after her arrival, but Cecil and Penelope adjusted well to their new abode. Hopes were high that the émigré platypuses would settle down and raise a family; in 1957, TIME published an article recounting the domestic activities of the prototherian couple:

Penelope Platypus was one of those saucy females who like to keep a male on a string. Cecil Platypus is one of those males. They lived mid the pleasures of their own platypusary in New York’s Bronx Zoo, where each had its own little swimming pool and private burrows. Back in 1953 Penelope fooled everybody with a false pregnancy. But the zoo never gave up hope. Neither did Cecil. Last month platypus observers noted that something was up in the platypusary…Cecil began to court Penelope.

Then tragedy (the ever-present bane of man and beast) struck. One sad day in 1957, Cecil couldn’t find his beloved Penelope. Apparently she had escaped the platypusary and vanished without a trace. The lovesick (or, perhaps, sick and tired) Cecil died in 1959. America is still waiting for a platypus (and platypusary) of its own.

Gothamist

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