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Happy Feet's mirror - Extended footage

Wednesday 24 Aug 2011 1:49 p.m.

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By Lloyd Burr

Happy Feet has less than a week to go before he is placed in a temporary plastic enclosure on the deck of a boat and shipped to sub-Antarctic waters to be dropped off.

But something else, other than media and celebrities rushing to get a final glimpse, has caught Happy Feet's attention - his own reflection.

A mirror was placed in his Wellington Zoo enclosure last week and he has taken quite a fancy to himself.  

Click on the video tab to watch extended footage of Happy Feet and his mirrors.

Zoo vet nurse Jo Wisker says the mirrors were installed “for a bit of interaction and a bit of enrichment” for the refugee penguin.

“They are fairly social and he can see another penguin there which he hasn’t quite worked out isn’t himself.

“We can’t really fool him but he is interacting with it as if he possibly thinks it’s another penguin,” she said.

“It’s just an experiment really to see how he interacts with it and so he’ll fit in fine when he goes back.”

He heads away next Monday on a NIWA research vessel and will being released at 53 degrees south near Campbell Island.

Construction has begun on a special travel enclosure, where Happy Feet will spend around four days before being released down the back ramp of the vessel.

The emperor penguin was found on Peka Peka Beach north of Wellington in June and Wellington Zoo took him in after he started eating sand and sticks.

Wellington Zoo's manager of veterinary science Dr Lisa Argilla will accompany Happy Feet on his journey home. 

She will be assisted by two NIWA staff who will be trained to feed and care for the penguin before the voyage departs. 

While the media are not allowed to join Happy Feet on his voyage, he will be fitted with a GPS tracker - so fans will still be able to keep track of the penguin's progress.

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