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Happy Feet has third operation

Monday 27 Jun 2011 10:54 a.m.

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Wellington Zoo staff are still working to remove sticks and sand from the Kapiti Coast’s stranded emperor penguin.

Nicknamed ‘Happy Feet’, the penguin has this morning undergone a third procedure – an endoscopy – to find out why it is sick.

Wellington Hospital gastroenterologist Dr John Wyeth is assisting Wellington Zoo staff with the procedure, where a camera has been inserted into Happy Feet’s throat. The zoo can perform endoscopies independently, but has welcomed the specialised equipment and experience brought by Dr Wyeth.

Wellington Zoo spokesperson Kate Baker told 3 News Happy Feet is stable and doing well under the anaesthetic, but is still in a critical condition. The operation is continuing this afternoon.

Today’s endoscopy is the third procedure to be carried out on the 27kg penguin, which has spent the last three days at the zoo, living in a temperature-controlled room on a bed of ice.

Staff were concerned the penguin had been eating sand, which could form balls of concrete inside its stomach and cause it to rupture.

If Happy Feet pulls through the operation, experts will decide what to do next - options include taking the penguin home to Antarctica by boat or plane, or releasing off the New Zealand coast with a tracking device attached.

Taking Happy Feet home could pose a health risk for the penguin colony it rejoins, as it may have picked up diseases on its travels.

3 News


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