Happy Feet Faces A Long Swim, But Not Long Odds

Now that he’s / she’s (no one is sure yet) on the mend, New Zealand wildlife officials have been trying to figure out how the penguin known to the world as Happy feet will return home.  They don’t want HF to stay indefinitely at the zoo and have initially dismissed the idea of transporting it to Antarctica because of logistical difficulties, and the fear that it could transmit infections picked up during its New Zealand “vacation” to other penguins.  As reported to the Penguin Post on Wednesday, an advisory group headed by the NZ Department of Conservation decided officials will help the penguin get part of the way home by releasing it into the Southern Ocean, southeast of New Zealand – pointing it in the right direction and letting it swim the rest of the way.

“The reason for not returning the penguin directly to Antarctica is that emperor penguins of this age are usually found north of Antarctica on pack ice and in the open ocean,” the department’s biodiversity spokesman Peter Simpson said. The area where it will be released is on the northern edge of the region where young emperor penguins are known to live. Simpson said he was unsure how far the penguin would have to swim before reaching its final destination.

Since its 3 procedure on Monday the penguin has been recovering well at Wellington Zoo, where its undergone a series of medical procedures to help flush out the sand it swallowed after apparently mistaking it for snow. Doctors managed to remove about half the sand from its digestive system, and zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said X-rays showed the penguin was passing the rest of the sand naturally (ouch). By all accounts the hardy penguin is doing better than expected at this stage of its recovery and appears to be doing well in an air-conditioned room filled with large blocks of ice.

Happy Feet Happy To Be On Ice And Not Sand

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