Penguin survives stomach surgery

Happy Feet the emperor penguin has undergone surgery at Wellington Zoo today to remove sticks, fluid and sand from its stomach. Photo / supplied
Happy Feet the emperor penguin has undergone surgery at Wellington Zoo today to remove sticks, fluid and sand from its stomach. Photo / supplied

A young emperor penguin found stranded on the Kapiti Coast last week has survived stomach surgery at Wellington Zoo.

The bird - nicknamed Happy Feet - was found on Peka Peka Beach early last week.

It was taken to Wellington Zoo for treatment on Friday after vets discovered it had been eating sand.

Vets at the zoo flushed sand out of its throat and stomach over the weekend.

Wellington Hospital gastroenterologist John Wyeth and vet staff gave
the penguin an endoscopy - involving a camera being inserted down its throat - this morning.

Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said the proceedure removed sticks, fluid and another "couple of hundred" grams of sand from its stomach.

Happy Feet was in a cold room at the zoo vet recovering, but remained in a critical condition, she said.

It was hoped a diet of oily foods and laxatives would flush any remaining sand and sticks out of its system.

Penguins usually eat snow for hydration and to keep cool. Experts believe Happy Feet ate the sand because it was confused about where it was.

Zoo staff were still waiting for DNA results to determine the bird's sex, Ms Baker said.

Millionaire businessman Gareth Morgan has offered to take the bird home by giving it a seat on a Russian icebreaker ship in February for an expedition to the Ross Sea in Antarctica.

"Of course until that time Happy Feet will have to be cared for here in Wellington," he said.

The emperor penguin is believed to have swum about 3200km from its Antarctic home. The only previous recording of an emperor penguin in New Zealand was at Southland's Oreti Beach in 1967.

- HERALD ONLINE

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 17 Apr 2014 16:11:43 Processing Time: 446ms