New Zealand Experts Settle Fate of Lost Penguin

Posted June 29th, 2011 at 1:35 am (UTC-5)
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New Zealand's specially constituted “penguin advisory group” has decided the fate of “Happy Feet,” an Emperor penguin that turned up unexpectedly on a New Zealand beach last week.

The team of wildlife experts put together by the New Zealand Department of Conservation said Wednesday the preferred option is to release the lost bird in the open ocean at the northern edge of the species' normal range.

The experts said they advised against returning the penguin, dubbed Happy Feet by an adoring New Zealand public, to Antarctica because emperor penguins of its age normally live at sea or on pack ice. They also decided against keeping it in captivity because the country has no suitable facilities.

In any case, Happy Feet is not going anywhere right away. The penguin will remain in New Zealand for weeks or months while it recovers from three rounds of surgery to clear its stomach of sticks and sand it apparently ate in the mistaken belief it was snow.