Good news, penguin lovers: Happy Feet is, more than likely, alive.

The emperor penguin which washed up on Peka Peka Beach, north of Wellington, about two months ago was released into the Southern Ocean on September 2 with a transmitter glued to his back to track his movements.

Transmission stopped a week ago and it was feared he could have become part of the food chain.

However, a penguin expert from Massey University believes it is more likely the transmitter simply fell off.


"Of the natural predators, leopard seals would be far further south, around the Antarctic continent, at this time," said Associate Professor John Cockrem, from the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences.

"I also think the chances of meeting an orca are pretty small.

"It is most likely the transmitter has fallen off."

Happy Feet - named for the 2006 film - would slowly make his way back to Antarctica but no one could guess his course or when he would arrive, Prof Cockrem said.

"It is highly likely Happy Feet is still alive."