Happy Feet Hosts His Own Farewell Party

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.

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