After being close to death and rescued from the beach at Peka Peka on the Kapiti Coast, after two months in care the young Emperor penguin known as “Happy Feet” is finally well enough to go home. With a satellite tag glued to his lower back, the penguin’s home for the next few days will be a purpose-built crate on board the NIWA research vessel Tangaroa. The ship will be undertaking an acoustic survey of southern blue whiting fish stocks in the vicinity of Campbell Island, approximately 1100 km north of the maximum extent of the Antarctic pack ice. This is at the northern edge of the at-sea range of immature emperor penguins.
Tangaroa – the pride of the NIWA fleet. Photo: NIWAThe penguin is in great condition, weighing in at close to 27 kg. It could be a rude shock for him to return to catching his own food after 2 months of being handfed young salmon!
The emperor penguin at Wellington Zoo. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa.
Wellington Zoo gave Happy Feet a “Farewell Party” on Sunday, giving locals a chance to come and say goodbye. Lots of excited youngsters dressed up in black and white, had their faces painted penguin style, and signed the farewell card. He has been a real crowd pleaser during his time at the zoo.