Posts Tagged ‘Wellington Zoo’

Happy Feet To “Fly” in 24 Hours

September 2, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that Happy Feet has taken to sleeping while standing up, and appears unperturbed by the 7-metre swells which are delaying his release. The penguin, which is still being kept in his crate on board the research vessel Tangaroa, now looks likely to be set free tomorrow. The Niwa team on board the vessel said he was coping well with the sway of the boat which is battling very rough and high seas with strong swells. “He is even sleeping standing up, keeping perfect balance.” Yet while he may seem calm, he has lost none of his stroppiness or impatience to be released. “When he wakes up, he squawks at the crew passing by and seems to know he is near home territory.” Wellington Zoo vet Lisa Argilla, who is traveling on board the vessel with Happy Feet, said he was doing well, standing in his crate, and taking the conditions in his stride. Yesterday’s 12 foot swells were likely to be topped by 20 foot seas today. The boat had slowed down for safety reasons she said. “The Tangaroa is a reasonably big boat and the ocean is tossing her around as if she was a toy,” Dr Argilla said. Conditions were likely to clear tomorrow. Once the boat reaches a latitude of about 51 degrees, Happy Feet will be released off the back of the boat using the ship’s ramp where the crew will set up a specially-designed tarpaulin to slide him down.

Happy Feet has been sleeping standing up in his specially constructed transport container.

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.

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 Ready For Happy Trails

August 18, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that the wayward Emperor penguin that washed up in New Zealand has been scheduled to be shipped back to sub-antarctic waters later this month on a scientific research vessel, Wellington Zoo said Wednesday. To re-cap, the adult male penguin, nicknamed “Happy Feet”, was found wandering on a beach near the capital in June and taken to the zoo to recuperate when he became ill after eating sand and sticks. Now with the bird, only the second Emperor penguin ever recorded in New Zealand, restored to full health, zoo chief executive Karen Fifield said plans had been finalized to ship him back to the Southern Ocean. Fifield said the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) ship Tangaroa would set sail from Wellington on August 29 with the penguin aboard. The ship, which will carry out research into Southern Ocean fisheries, will release the bird four days into the voyage near Campbell Island, which is within the normal feeding range of Emperor penguins. “This is an excellent result for everyone involved, and for the penguin, and is a great example of organizations working together for the best outcome,” Fifield said. The hope is that Happy Feet will swim home to Antarctica, where Emperor penguins live in colonies ranging in size from a few hundred to more than 20,000 pairs. “The NIWA team are looking forward to having this extra special guest onboard the vessel with us for the journey,” research manager Rob Murdoch said. “Happy Feet has captured the hearts of New Zealanders and people across the world, and we’re pleased to be able to help safely return him to the Southern Ocean.” While aboard the ship, Happy Feet will be housed in a specially designed crate that Fifield said would keep him “cold and comfortable”, with a vet and two NIWA staff to look after him. The penguin will be fitted with a satellite tracking device before he is released, so scientists and the public can track his progress on the zoo’s website. It is thought the bird fell ill on the beach after mistaking sand for snow and eating it in a bid to lower his temperature, clogging his gut and leading to a series of operations to clear his stomach. A diet of “fish milkshakes” at the zoo has seen Happy Feet’s weight increase four kilograms (nine pounds) to 26 kilograms, giving him sufficient reserves for what will still be an arduous 2,000 kilometer (1,250 mile) swim home.  The reason for Happy Feet’s appearance in New Zealand remains a mystery, although experts say Emperor penguins take to the open sea during the Antarctic summer and this one may have simply wandered further than most.  Hopefully, after his release at sea he won’t wander back to New Zealand again as we hear the snow there tastes like sand, and the sticks taste like…er…sticks.

Happy Feet has been told to pack his bags.

Happy Feet’s Adoring Public

August 5, 2011

The Penguin Post has forwarded this from AP:

Happy Feet is now a creature of the Internet age.

The wayward emperor penguin, discovered on a New Zealand beach six weeks ago, will soon be returned to the wild — but not before he picked up an online following of more than 120,000.

That’s how many unique visitors have logged onto a Web camera monitoring his every move. Thousands more are expected to follow the updates after he’s released in coming weeks, with feeds from a GPS tracker attached to his back posted online.

And then there’s the chatter on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

His followers don’t seem bothered that Happy Feet, nicknamed after the 2006 animated movie, does little more than eat, sleep and occasionally waddle.

“At 11:20 p.m. in New Zealand, Happy Feet was sound asleep with his left foot and flipper sticking out,” one Facebook fan wrote. “Five minutes later, he pulled in his left foot and flipper and just got up! :)”

The penguin was found June 20 on Peka Peka Beach, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Wellington and far from his Antarctic feeding grounds. He was moved four days later to the Wellington Zoo after becoming ill from eating sand, which he likely mistook for snow.

He has since gained weight and been given a clean bill of health to return to the ocean.

His unusual journey captured worldwide interest, with local TV3 station setting up a webcam on June 30 in his small, ice-filled room at the zoo.

The phone calls began coming in soon after, even prompting the zoo one night to send a veterinarian to check on the penguin after the station was swamped by worried callers convinced Happy Feet had died, zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said. It turned out the penguin was sleeping.

One woman wrote an email to TV3 saying she was ill but taking “a lot of comfort in simply watching the penguin.”

“It’s kind of like O. Henry’s story ‘The Leaf,'” wrote the woman, identified as Janet in Chicago. “I feel as long as the penguin does well, I’ll do well.”

The station’s Wellington bureau chief, Gordon McBride, said he and a colleague came up with the webcam idea and the zoo agreed.

“It’s such an unusual thing, and people like to see that,” McBride said.

After the “great response” to the penguin’s webcam, the zoo is now considering live streaming other animals and the zoo’s medical procedures, Baker said.

The zoo raised the $10,000 through a public campaign to cover the costs of housing Happy Feet, Baker said. It has also raised about $8,000 so far for returning him to the sub-Antarctic ocean south of New Zealand — a trip that could cost up to $30,000.

The GPS tracker unit will likely come off when Happy Feet molts in April, if not sooner, though the penguin has also been fitted with a microchip that will be triggered if he roams near monitored colonies in Antarctica, she said.

Happy Feet Hoping to Raise 30K

August 1, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that the Wellington Zoo and the NZ Department of Conservation are trying to raise $30,000 to finance Happy Feet the wayward Emperor Penguins return to the wild.  The penguin has been staying at the zoo since falling ill from eating sand and sticks on the Kapiti coast  after losing it way swimming from Antarctica six weeks ago. A zoo spokesperson says the plan is to release ‘Happy Feet’ later this month off the coast of Bluff and track his progress. Caring for Happy Feet has so far cost the zoo about $10,000. Donations from the public have funded this and the zoo hopes the bird’s return to the wild will also be funded through the public’s generosity.  To donate contact the Wellington Zoo.

Happy Feet a Big Draw For Zoo

July 30, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that celebrity penguin Happy Feet has been pulling in big crowds at the Wellington Zoo with visitor numbers up by nearly half as compared to years past.  Everyone’s favorite lost emperor penguin gained worldwide fame after he was discovered on Peka Peka Beach five weeks ago, and after eating sand and sticks for about a week he was operated on and is now being kept in a 2 degrees Celsius air-conditioned room full of party ice at the zoo’s hospital. “We had a big day yesterday with around 1600 people coming through,” Wellington Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said. Usual visitor numbers for the same period were about 1100. “I think that boost could be attributed to him.” She added. Yesterday was the biggest day of the busy school holiday period and the first day Happy Feet could be seen by the public. “We’ve made it clear throughout that we can’t promise people they’ll see Happy Feet. He’s here for treatment and rehab. But yesterday he had some procedures done so people were able to see him.” The Conservation Department is planning to return him to the sea next month from a boat off the Bluff coast. Happy Feet is the first known emperor penguin to swim the more than 3000 kilometres to New Zealand from Antarctica in 44 years. But, until then he’ll be strutting his stuff for his public.

The penguin the public wants to see.

Happy Feet In “Training”

July 26, 2011

With the recent cold snap it may seem like perfect weather in New Zealand for a penguin to make long swim, but Happy Feet the penguin will not start his journey home until he has first-class travel booked to a release point somewhere much further south in the Southern Ocean.  The Penguin Post has learned that Happy Feet is in training for his eventual trip home by eating and resting, which is a perfect penguin way to train for a 2000 mile swim.  He now weighs about 60 lbs. and is healthy enough to be released, but the Department of Conservation is still looking for the best travel choice, which would ideally provide optimal conditions for the penguin, said Wellington Zoo veterinary science manager Lisa Argilla.  The young penguin won global fame when he turned up on Peka Peka Beach, north of Wellington, last month. The penguin has since had various procedures to remove sand, sticks and rocks from his stomach.  Aside from his weight, the penguin’s travel-readiness also depended on his body condition, personality and demeanour, all of which were normal, Dr Argilla said. “There are a lot of factors we need to consider just to keep him safe on the journey, so we just need to work through that and make sure we take him down south and have a successful release. “We are not prepared to rush that, obviously – because if you rush it, it’s going to go wrong.” Happy Feet would be taken from Wellington to Invercargill either by air or in a refrigerated truck, DoC biodiversity programme manager Peter Simpson said. A boat leaving Bluff, 18 miles south of Invercargill, would take him to a point past Stewart Island where he would start his swim of more than 1800 miles. Travel would have to be approved by Dr Argilla based on how stressful it would be in the temperature and the time-span of the journey. “It’d have to be a boat that can take the penguin that has some form of chilling on it, that can take the media, and that is licensed to go that far south,” Mr Simpson said. Dr Argilla said the penguin was being fed salmon once a day. Because of the unusually cold weather in Wellington yesterday, Happy Feet took a swim in the Wellington Zoo saltwater pool, the zoo said, before returning to his cold room. The emperor penguin is believed to have swum about 2000 miles from his Antarctic home to Peka Peka Beach. The only previous recording of an emperor penguin in New Zealand was at Southland’s Oreti Beach in 1967. Emperor penguins are the largest penguins. The adults reach nearly four feet tall and weigh up to 75 lbs. They feed on fish, krill, squid and a wide range of marine invertebrates, can dive 600 feet deep and spend 11 minutes underwater.

Happy Feet in training for marathon swim