Penguin Donations Waddling In

The Penguin Post is happy to report that the money for Happy Feet’s $10,000 food bill was raised in under 24 hours!  Despite footing the tab for half that amount New Zealand philanthropist Gareth Morgan doesn’t mind keeping his wallet open for the world’s favorite penguin.  The high-profile Wellington businessman said last week he would match donations to Wellington Zoo’s Happy Feet fund dollar for dollar and has already donated more than $5000. The money received so far is enough to keep the emperor penguin fed on high-quality salmon for two months. “It’s a bloody expensive bird, I can tell you that much,” Dr Morgan said. “But I don’t mind really because any surplus is being used to start saving for his transport costs and paying for additional staff.” Happy Feet has captured the nation’s attention after arriving on Peka Peka Beach two weeks ago – the first emperor penguin to swim here from Antarctica for 44 years. Dr Morgan met the penguin at the weekend after the fourth operation to clear sand from its stomach. The way the country had come to the bird’s aid showed how far New Zealand had come, he said. “When the first penguin turned up in `67 there was hardly any brouhaha about it. But back then there was no internet or instant, up to the second reporting. This time around everyone is so dedicated to seeing the bird recover – it really shows how much more people understand about this kind of thing.” The Penguin Advisory Committee is still working out how Happy Feet will be returned to Antarctic waters. “There aren’t any confirmed plans at this stage,” committee member Peter Simpson said. “We are still gathering information on potential release sites, as well as working out how to transport the penguin from Wellington down to Bluff.” Mr Simpson, the Conservation Department’s committee representative, expected it to take another month before plans were concrete. “It’s important that the penguin is properly fattened up for the trip. “He needs to be completely ready to make the long swim home.” A tracking device will be placed on him, but there are no plans to intervene if Happy Feet strays off course. “It’ll be up to him at that stage – whatever it does is whatever it does.”

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