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Antarctic Emperor Penguin Takes A Long Wrong Turn To New Zealand Beach

Emperor penguin in New Zealand – Happy Feet

An Antarctic emperor penguin showed up on the shores of a New Zealand beach on Monday afternoon, the first sighting of one of these penguins in New Zealand in over 40 years. Apparently the little (well big) guy, standing about 32 inches tall and around 10 months old, took one heck of a wrong turn and swam almost 2,000 miles from Antarctica to Peka Peka Beach in the North Island of New Zealand. Oopsies.

It was reported that the penguin was acting lethargically, with changing behavior during the week. There were concerns that the outcry of (international) public attention could startle or stress the penguin even further, and the decision was made to move it to Wellington Zoo for treatment. The penguin, dubbed Happy Feet, had been eating sand, apparently as an unfortunate replacement for Antarctic snow.

There is no transportation to Antarctica during the winter season in the southern hemisphere, so the closest the penguin could get to being safely returned to its homeland would be being dropped off in the closest vicinity possible. Even then, long distance travel for large seabirds such as this poses a safety risk, at least it does when they’re out of the water.

However, a local businessman has offered to transport Happy Feet on a Russian icebreaker to the Ross Sea in Antarctica in February (mid-summer). This long-distance expedition could have a happy ending after all, hopefully. Happy Feet will remain at Wellington Zoo until then.

I took a wrong turn in Detroit one time and ended up on the bridge to Canada, and I thought that was scary because I didn’t have my birth certificate with me. I can’t imagine what it would be like to just start driving and suddenly end up in Los Angeles. 2,000 miles, can you imagine? I sure hope this little dude isn’t married, his wife is going to be angry.

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