Happy Feet Goes Home

Posted August 29th, 2011 at 1:45 am (UTC-5)
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HEAD: Happy Feet Goes Home

DATE: 08/28/11

NUMBER: 1309738


Happy Feet, the globe-trotting emperor penguin who washed up on a New Zealand beach two months ago, is being shipped back to his home in the Southern Ocean Monday.

Hundreds of people, including children dressed in black-and-white, turned up Sunday at the Wellington Zoo to say farewell to the bird, who captured the hearts of New Zealanders. Zoo officials said a fisheries survey vessel will carry him four days out to sea and release him near Campbell Island, where other juvenile emperor penguins are likely to be found.

Happy Feet became sick after eating sand, which he likely mistook for snow. He recovered after surgeons at the zoo removed the sand from his stomach and veterinarians fed him a steady diet of “fish milkshakes.”

The bird has been fitted with a tracking device that will enable fans to monitor his progress. The device will fall off during molting season toward the end of the year.

Happy Feet is the first Emperor penguin to be seen in New Zealand in 44 years. Emperors are the largest of the penguin species. Adults grow to more than a meter tall and weigh up to 30 kilograms.