ANDREW GORRIE/The Dominion Post
COLD COMFORT: Happy Feet starts his southbound adventure appear Antarctica.
Happy Feet could acknowledgment to New Zealand shores if his homing instincts abort aback he is alternate to the agrarian southern seas.
The emperor penguin began his adventure home to Antarctica bygone – 10 weeks afterwards the absent bird was rescued from Peka Peka Beach with a abdomen abounding of sand.
After several operations, angle milkshakes and circadian doses of salmon, the abashed and ailing adolescent penguin has become able and stroppy.
His abandonment from Wellington Zoo was low key with aloof a couple-of-dozen bystanders aggravating to bolt a glimpse.
Without too abundant coaxing, the 28-kilogram bird waddled out of his air-conditioned asylum and into a cage, which was again apprenticed to Burnham Wharf, Miramar, area the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric analysis address Tangaroa was moored.
He belly-flopped into his cloistral crate on the ship’s accouter and showed his acknowledgment for the ice-laden attic with a basal wiggle, Wellington Zoo vet casework administrator Lisa Argilla said.
“He’s a appealing chilled-out bird, so he’ll achieve down.”
Dr Argilla and two Niwa scientists will affliction for Happy Feet until he is appear about 700km south of the South Island at the end of this week.
“It’s absolutely the best agitative allotment of my job, absolution wildlife aback into their accustomed environment,” she said.
Dr Argilla rated his adventitious of adaptation as actuality on par with any penguin, at accident from predators such as seals and analgesic whales.
“Nature can be a bit cruel. It’s absolutely adaptation of the fittest … fingers beyond he’s one of the fittest.”
While he ability get abashed and bathe back, it was hoped he would acquisition a bulk of penguins to bathe home with and activate ancestry abutting year.
Niwa boating baton Richard O’Driscoll said Happy Feet had garnered added absorption than any added VIP who had been on the ship, including above prime abbot Helen Clark. “This is a actual accepted guy.”
Depending on how asperous the sea is, the penguin will be freed either via a canvas tarpaulin accelerate or over the ancillary of a baby inflatable boat. The Niwa aggregation will again abide their month-long fisheries analysis of southern dejected whiting abreast Campbell Island.
More than 1200 admirers from as far as Kenya and Finland beatific letters for an colossal adieu agenda created by millionaire philanthropist Gareth Morgan, who is allotment a GPS transmitter absorbed to Happy Feet’s feathers, which will abatement off aback he moults in about four months.
The zoo was not advantageous for the voyage, but had spent about $28,000 on him, all of which was met by donations. All up, $87,300 has been accustomed for his welfare.
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