Happy Feet the penguin missing in Southern Ocean

Sep 12, 2011

Scientists tracking Happy Feet, the wayward penguin who became a worldwide celebrity after washing up on a New Zealand beach, said Monday they had lost contact with the giant bird.

Researchers said they had received no transmissions since last Friday from a satellite tracking device that was attached to the penguin after he was released into the icy on September 4.

Happy Feet may have been eaten by predators, or the tracking transmitter may have failed or fallen off as the penguin swam in the sub-Antarctic waters where a New Zealand dropped him off, researchers said.

Colin Miskelly, an animal expert from Wellington's Te Papa museum who advised on Happy Feet's two-month rehabilitation when he was found emaciated and near death in late June, said efforts would continue to relocate the bird.

"It is unlikely that we will ever know what caused the transmissions to cease, but it is time to harden up to the reality that the penguin has returned to the anonymity from which he emerged," he said.

Happy Feet, was released into the water from the New Zealand fisheries vessel Tangaroa near Campbell Island, about 700 kilometres (435 miles) south of New Zealand's South Island.

The three-and-a-half year old male's home in Antarctica was about 2,000 kilometres further south and the hope was that he would join up with other emperor penguins on the long voyage.

Miskelly said in his blog about the bird at www.tepapa.govt.nz that he had not given up hope of a happy ending for Happy Feet.

"Maybe, just maybe, he will surprise us all by turning up at a monitored emperor penguin colony, where the transponder inserted under the skin on his thigh will remind us all that once upon a time, a long time ago, he was more than just another penguin," he said.

Happy Feet was only the second ever recorded in New Zealand.

He was close to death and needed surgery to remove sand and sticks from his stomach before he could be fattened up at Wellington Zoo on a diet of fish milkshakes, attracting international attention during his New Zealand sojourn.

Attendance at the zoo almost doubled during his stay and there are plans for a book and documentary recounting his story.

Explore further: Flapping baby birds give clues to origin of flight

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Happy Feet the penguin begins long swim home

Sep 04, 2011

Happy Feet, the lost penguin who became a worldwide celebrity after he washed up on a New Zealand beach was released back into the Southern Ocean on Sunday to begin a long swim home to Antarctica.

New Zealand's lost penguin sets sail for home

Aug 29, 2011

A wayward emperor penguin that found international fame after washing up lost on a New Zealand beach made a low-key exit from Wellington Monday aboard a research ship bound for his home waters.

Concerns for New Zealand's wayward penguin

Jun 24, 2011

An Emperor penguin that washed up lost on a New Zealand beach this week was taken to Wellington Zoo Friday after its health deteriorated, wildlife experts said. ...

New Zealand's lost penguin heads home

Aug 28, 2011

Fattened up on a diet of "fish milkshakes" and escorted by his own personal veterinary team, the world's most famous penguin, Happy Feet, sets sail Monday for the icy waters he calls home.

Recommended for you

Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion

Aug 27, 2014

Wolves may be susceptible to yawn contagion, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Teresa Romero from The University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Husky
not rated yet Sep 12, 2011
happy meal?