Penguin rescued and returned to Antarctica
Sep 7, 2011
A young emperor penguin that was found 2,000 miles away from its Antarctic home in New Zealand was returned home safely last week, People Magazine reports.
The penguin, nicknamed "Happy Feet" after the 2006 animated movie about emperor penguins, was found on Peka Peka beach on New Zealand's Kapiti Coast in June. The bird exhausted and hungry and was taken in by the Wellington Zoo to recuperate, according to CNN.
Happy Feet had to undergo several stomach flushes and an endoscopy to empty the sand from its stomach. Veterinary scientists who care for the penguin at the zoo said that the bird likely ingested the sand as it would normally ingest ice to cool down and hydrate.
The penguin was escorted back home to Antarctica on a research vessel, and needed some "gentle encouragement" to slide off the ramp back into its natural environment, according to Dr. Lisa Argilla, the manager of veterinary science at Wellington Zoo.
"It's an indescribable feeling to see a patient finally set free," Argilla told the news source.
Scientists are unsure how the penguin apparently swam so far away from home. Argilla said in June that the bird may have gotten stuck in a current or its internal radar was off.