Archive for August, 2011

Happy Feet The Penguin Sets Sail

August 30, 2011

Everyone’s favorite wayward penguin affectionately dubbed Happy Feet craned his head, flapped his flippers and seemed just a little perturbed as he began his journey home to colder, more penguin friendly waters Monday.  The young penguin was moved from the Wellington Zoo, where staff has cared for him in 5 star penguin luxury the past two months to the research ship Tangaroa, which will release him after four days at sea when they arrive at the latitude of 51 degrees south. Happy Feet has been placed in a custom-made crate for the journey and will be kept cool with 60 buckets of ice, and the Penguin Post has learned he’ll be fed his favorite fresh fish until his release.  The Tangaroa is New Zealand’s largest research vessel and was already scheduled to head into frigid southern waters to check on fish numbers in order to set fishing quotas.  To re-cap, the 3-foot-tall penguin was found on a New Zealand beach June 20, far from his Antarctic feeding grounds. He was moved to the zoo after he became ill from eating sand that he undoubtedly mistook for snow. He’s since regained weight and been medically cleared to be returned to the wild. Lisa Argilla, a veterinarian who has helped nurse the penguin back to health, said he has a “stronger and stroppier attitude” than when he first arrived at the zoo, when his demeanor seemed flat and his feather condition was poor. A classic indicator of a sick penguin. “He’s definitely a survivor,” she said. He’s also become quite the penguin superstar. Thousands of viewers have watched him eat, sleep and waddle on a 24 hour a day zoo webcam. And the Penguin Post has learned that he’s been fitted with a GPS tracker so people can follow his progress online after he is released. “He’s brought a lot of hope and joy to people,” said Karen Fifield, Wellington Zoo’s chief executive. “His story has driven to the heart of what makes us human.” The boat’s skipper Richard O’Driscoll said that once the Tangaroa has reached the drop-off point, he will likely cut the engines and then release the penguin from the deck into the sea using a makeshift canvas slide (we can’t wait to see that). More than 1,700 people went to the zoo Sunday to bid goodbye to Happy Feet, who was visible in a glassed area while getting final medical checks. The zoo has covered the cost of his stay with about $28,000 in donations. Argilla said she will miss Happy Feet but hopes it will be the last she sees of him. By next year, she said, he will be old enough to find a mate and breed, and if that isn’t incentive to leave his Wellington Zoo enclosure then nothing is.

Follow Happy Feet’s progress at or

It may not look like it here, but Happy Feet leaving New Zealand with much fanfare.

Happy Feet Hosts His Own Farewell Party

August 28, 2011

Crowds of people are expected to turn up to Wellington Zoo in New Zealand today to bid farewell Happy Feet.  The farewell at the zoo comes a day before Happy Feet is due to begin his voyage home to Antarctica on Niwa’s research vessel Tangaroa. The Penguin Post has learned that Happy Feet, accompanied by the zoo’s head vet Lisa Argilla, is scheduled to leave Wellington on the boat at 6pm. The penguin will be released in the Southern Ocean four days into the ship’s month-long trip to the Campbell Islands, 700km south of New Zealand. As part of today’s celebrations, called ”Haere Ra Happy Feet”, visitors have been encouraged to dress up in black and white and have the chance to sign a farewell card. At 3pm Happy Feet will go under anaesthetic for the final time for a final health check and so a GPS tracking device can be attached to him. Wellington Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said Happy Feet was in good health for the trip and was expected to pass the final check up with flying colors. She said today’s event was a chance for people, including zoo staff, to say goodbye to the bird, which had captured everyone’s imagination. ”We suspect it will be a big day, yesterday we had 1500 people come through the zoo, so we will probably have that many again,” Ms Baker said. On Wednesday, when there was a $5 entry fee, 2950 people visited the zoo, she said. Ms Baker said that all up, including the voyage to Antarctica, the penguin had cost about $30,000 to look after, which had been covered by donations from the public, a $5000 donation from businessman Gareth Morgan and about $7500 which had so far been raised through a promotion from chip maker Bluebird. Asked whether the zoo should have intervened when Happy Feet was found on the beach in June Ms Baker said: ”We are doing what we can to help him, and I think that’s the right thing to do, we do that all the time with all sorts of animals.  ”That’s what we do here.”

Happy Feet partying before waddling off into the sunset.

Painting Penguins!

August 26, 2011

They’re being called the “Picassos of the penguin world” because of their artistic abilities, which they illustrated, literally, in the Fox and Friends studio yesterday. The painting penguins visited from Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium to show off their art, the sale of which raises money to help their fellow African penguins, who are an endangered species.

Mystic Penguins Prepare For Hurricane

August 26, 2011

MYSTIC, CT – With six outdoor exhibits housing a variety of animals, Mystic Aquarium is preparing for Hurricane Irene. As severe weather approaches, stingrays from the “Ray Touch Pool,” 30 African penguins from the “Roger Tory Peterson Penguin Pavilion” and hundreds of exotic birds from “Birds of the Outback” will be moved inside. Marine mammals, including sea lions, seals and beluga whales, will continue to remain outdoors in their secure habitats. Husbandry staff will be on the premises around the clock to monitor animal safety, water levels and power sources. Mystic Aquarium is equipped with backup generators in the event of a power outage. To further ensure animal safety, all items that are not securely grounded, such as umbrellas, exhibit canopies, trash and recycling receptacles, and kiosks, will be removed.

Happy Feet Packing His Bags

August 26, 2011

Wellington, New Zealand:  Finally, the penguin with a terrible sense of direction and peculiar eating habits is packed and about to head home after ending up more than 2,000 miles off course in New Zealand. Nicknamed ‘Happy Feet’, the emperor penguin has became the focus of international attention since washing up on a New Zealand beach three months ago.  It was initially feared he would not survive after he ate pounds of sand, believing it was snow.  Now fit, rested and well, vets have given him the all clear to hitch a lift on a research ship back to the Antarctic. He leaves on Monday in his own specially-designed crate to keep him cold and comfortable. The penguin has also been fitted with a GPS tracking device so the public can check he does not make another wrong turn. The research vessel Tangaroa sets sail from Wellington in four days with the VIP (very important penguin) guest on board, accompanied by a zoo vet. He will be released into the ocean four days later. Dr. Rob Murdoch, from the New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the organization operating the ship, said: “It is a fantastic coincidence that the Tangaroa’s journey takes it to 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.” As told to the Penguin Post, just before Happy Feet leaves, staff at Wellington Zoo will be holding a farewell party for him.Of course guests are being invited to wear black and white in his honor.

Happy Feet is getting a one way ticket south.

Penguin Poetry Contest

August 25, 2011

Celebrity penguin Happy Feet is bringing out the poetic streak in local Wellington, New Zealand kids, and the Penguin Post has learned that the The Dominion Post and Wellington Zoo are offering an exclusive chance for two readers to get up close and personal with Happy Feet before he leaves for the subantarctic on August 29.

To win, penguin fans must write and send us a poem about Happy Feet.

The meet Happy Feet competition closes this Thursday August 25 and we’ve had dozens of great entries already – from short and sweet haiku and rhyming tweets, to lamenting limericks and epic prose.

Here’s some of the entries so far:

His name is Happy Feet
On the way from Antarctica
All he had to eat
Was sticks and sand.

He’s got a saltwater pool
To keep him nice and cool
He was found on the Kapiti Coast
And he would rather eat fish than toast
He’s Happy Feet!!!

 – Ruby Mackle, age 11

Happy Feet, you are so neat, we don’t mind paying for you to eat!
Wellington all loved that Arctic chill, but for you, Happy Feet, it was the same ol’ drill.
We hope you liked your stay here, so when you go, please take care.
You have to remember not to eat sand, ’cause if you eat too much, you mightn’t stand!
Now go straight home and don’t talk to strangers everyone knows the worlds full of dangers!!
you Happy Feet!!

– Aliscia Sammons, age 15

Penguins know life
More than we ever will.
They swim and play,
Without remorse,
Without searching for answers,
Without dislocation from it all.
Penguins know more than
We will ever know.

– Abe Foster, age 21


An inspirered poem will get you some face time with this penguin

Happy Feet Makes A Friend

August 24, 2011

It seems that Penguin Place and world can’t get enough of Happy Feet, and now neither can he. While staff prepare for the emperor penguin’s trip back to the subantarctic, Happy Feet has been given a new toy to play with. A new mirror was placed in his enclosure for mental stimulation and it seems the penguin is quite taken with himself. Wellington Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said the mirror provided stimulation to Happy Feet now that he was well and active. “He seems to be very interested in the ‘other’ penguin,” Ms Baker said. Meanwhile, the zoo is gearing up for Happy Feet’s departure on August 29 when he will be released at 53 degrees south, the northern-most end of waters juvenile emperor penguins are known to inhabit. Construction is under way on a special travel enclosure for the penguin to travel in when he sets sail. He will board a Niwa research vessel but will travel in a custom-made container to ensure he is kept safe and cool. Staff are constructing his travel container from the same material used to build containers for holding fish in fishing vessels. It would be made large enough for him to stand up in, lift his beak up in, and turn around in. However, his watchers on board would be able to decrease its size if conditions got rough. Ms Baker said staff would miss him once he was gone. “We’re going to miss him but the best thing for us is being able to release animals back to the wild.”

Happy Feet, meet Happy Feet

Whole Lotta Penguin Shaken

August 23, 2011

Thought I was losing it when all the plush penguins on the shelves at Penguin Place began to spontaneously waddle, when I heard to my relief that I was witnessing the results of an earthquake.  Yes, an earthquake in western Mass.  Apparently the odds of a quake here are not much greater than my plush penguins waddling on their own, but there you have it.  Apparently, these east coast quakes are quite different than the more prominent quakes of the west coast and Japan.  These are not as severe and can be felt for hundreds of miles.  The one we felt here in our Igloo was centered in the Carolina’s.  Now, we await the waddling aftershocks.

Shaken not stirred penguin.

Is Irish Penguin Lonely or Lazy?

August 23, 2011

The Penguin Post has been made aware of a video of a lonely, or lazy penguin at Fota Wildlife Park in Cork.  Depending on if you’re a glass half lonely or half lazy kind of person.  The video of the unresponsive penguin has become a recent internet sensation, garnering over 70,000 YouTube hits.  The clip taken by blogger Sean McEntee shows feeding time at the park, when all the penguins scramble towards a golf buggy bringing their dinner except for one, which stands alone and- if it isn’t just our imagination – looks forlorn. But, really what is going through this penguins mind?  Only he (she) knows for sure.  Fota Wildlife Park tweeted earlier today “One of our penguins has become a YouTube sensation”. The clip has also been picked up by the website I Can Haz Cheezburger (who dubbed in some soft, slow piano music for extra effect). But perhaps we shouldn’t feel too sorry for the little fella. Sean McEntee wrote on his blog: “People have speculated as to why the penguin didn’t move when the rest did […] The lone penguin is standing in the area where the penguins get fed, so he was probably just smart and very experienced. “Why move when I know the food is going to come to me?”  Obviously, Sean is in the lazy camp.

Lazy, lonely or....perhaps just not hungry.

Aussie Island Penguins On The Verge

August 23, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that a recent census of the islands Little Blue Penguins have conservationists and penguin lovers worried that the penguin colony there is on the verge of extinction.  The count found just over 100 penguins left on the tiny island off the coast of Victor Harbor, south of Adelaide, Australia. It is 30 per cent fewer penguins than the year before and compares with about 1,600 recorded at the popular tourist destination a decade ago. Local conservationist Natalie Gilbert says that at the present rate there could be no penguins in the area by 2020 if the trend persists. “That’s why we’re putting so much effort now into trying to find out if there’s a way to make them feel safer and make it more appealing for them and give them a better environment and work out what exactly is the main issues,” she said. Volunteers have been putting these nest boxes on the south-western part of Granite Island where penguins were common in the past. Hopefully, these efforts can reverse the trend and bring back the penguin numbers.

Some of the dwindling Little Blue Penguin population of Granite Island.