After more than two months of being nursed back to health the wayward emperor penguin who captured hearts around the world is heading home.
Happy Feet was washed up on Peka Peka Beach, north of Wellington, nine weeks ago.
He was admitted to Wellington Zoo where vets carried out many procedures to remove sand from his stomach, which he mistakenly ate as if it was snow to cool himself down.
At the zoo yesterday staff did a final health check, took some blood and attached a tracker device, which will allow the public to monitor his progress on the internet when he is dropped in the Southern Ocean next week.
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Today, he was transferred to a National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research vessel, the Tangaroa, which was due to sail tonight to the Campbell Islands, 700km south of New Zealand.
Once there he will be released from his specially designed cold cage into the southern ocean hopefully to make his own way home to the Antarctica.
Accompanying him will be the zoo's head vet, Lisa Argilla who has overseen his recovery from near death.