David Bowie: Penguin Born At Cincinnati Zoo Named After Iconic Musician Just Before Bowie’s Death

Late iconic singer David Bowie has a penguin named after him. The Cincinnati Zoo named the baby penguin Bowie after taking name suggestions from social media. Ironically, the baby penguin was born on David Bowie’s birthday and just two days before the musician and actor died from liver cancer complications, according to KCTV News.

On January 7, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden took to their Facebook page to announce the impending arrival of the first baby penguin of 2016. The penguin egg was actually in competition with a pregnant aardvark to see which one would pop out the first zoo baby of the new year. Cincinnati Zoo predicted the penguin egg would hatch that night, but baby Bowie held off arriving until David Bowie’s 69th birthday on Friday.

Zoo staff took name suggestions for the little blue penguin from Facebook users three hours after the penguin egg hatched. According to the Cincinnati Zoo, the blue fairy penguin was born at 6 a.m. on January 8, weighing in at 46 grams, which equals roughly 1.6 ounces. Elvis, Pippin, Dory, and Rey are three names among several that were considered for the new penguin chick.

Elvis and Bowie were apparently tied for the most popular boy names. Elvis’ birthday was also coincidentally on January 8, but Cincinnati Zoo had already named a king penguin after the “King of Rock and Roll,” so the obvious choice was Bowie, after the legendary English performer. Thane Maynard, the Cincinnati Zoo director, said the timing for the birth of Bowie was perfect because Penguin Days are celebrated at the Ohio zoo every year in January and February.

Little did zoo keepers know that the following Sunday David Bowie would die after battling liver cancer for 18 months. Fox News reported on Monday that Bowie passed peacefully at his home in New York while surrounded by family, including his wife of nearly 24 years, 60-year-old Somali model and actress Iman, the couple’s 15-year-old daughter, Alexandria Zahra, and 44-year-old Duncan Jones, Bowie’s son from a previous marriage to 66-year-old Cyprus model, Angela Barnett. Duncan shared the news of his father’s death on Twitter late Sunday.

“Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all.”

Fans of David Bowie were shocked and crushed to hear of his passing. The eclectic singer and actor was known professionally as David Bowie but was born as David Robert Jones in South London in 1947. Bowie gained popularity in the UK with his first hit song “Space Oddity” in 1969 and again in America in 1974 with his number-one single “Fame.” Labyrinth also made Muppets fans take notice of Bowie, who played the Goblin King in the 1986 American fantasy film directed by Jim Henson.

David Bowie more or less kept his cancer diagnosis a secret, but some say he was trying to say goodbye to fans on his most recent album, Blackstar, which was just released on his birthday last Friday, the same day baby penguin Bowie was born. According to the Guardian, the songs on Blackstar talk about death, illness, and heaven. David Bowie’s last music video for “Lazarus,” one track on Blackstar, even shows Bowie lying in a hospital bed with his eyes bandaged.

Bowie’s cocaine addiction for several years in the 1970s was not a secret to fans. When Bowie collapsed backstage from a heart attack in 2004 in Germany at a music festival, fans feared his health was failing. Bowie had kept mostly a low profile since, even taking a year off in 2006. But fans are grateful Bowie left them one last great performance in Blackstar and the “Lazarus” music video. David Bowie’s name will continue to live on in his acting and music, as well as Cincinnati Zoo’s first animal birth of 2016, baby penguin Bowie.

[Image via Facebook/Cincinnati Zoo]