Happy Feet heading home at end of month

Happy Feet is expected to leave Wellington Zoo at the end of the month. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Happy Feet is expected to leave Wellington Zoo at the end of the month. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The emperor penguin who became world famous when he washed up on a Kapiti Coast beach in June will return home at the end of this month.

Wellington Zoo and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research (Niwa) today announced Happy Feet would be shipped out to sea on Niwa's research vessel Tangaroa on August 29.

Happy Feet, who has lived at Wellington Zoo since he was found on Peka Peka beach, would be released in the Southern Ocean four days into the ship's month-long trip to the Campbell Islands, 700km south of New Zealand.

Wellington Zoo's manager of veterinary science Lisa Argilla, assisted by two Niwa staff, would accompany the penguin on the voyage.

Happy Feet would be housed in a travel crate, designed to keep him cold and comfortable during the four days, Wellington Zoo chief executive Karen Fifield said.

The penguin would be released 53 degrees south "which is within the natural range of juvenile emperor penguins - they are often spotted on Campbell Island which lies at the same latitude''.

"This is an excellent result for everyone involved, and for the penguin, and is a great example of organisations working together for the best outcome,'' Ms Fifield said

Happy Feet would be fitted with a GPS tracker before he left Wellington to record his movements.

Niwa general manager of research Rob Murdoch said the team was looking forward to having the extra-special guest onboard.

"Happy Feet has captured the hearts of New Zealanders and people across the world, and we're pleased to be able to help safely return him to the Southern Ocean.''

- NZPA

- NZ Herald

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