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Up close with Happy Feet + feeding - Extended Footage

Thursday 18 Aug 2011 9:24 a.m.

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By Lloyd Burr

The date of Happy Feet’s home-ward voyage was announced yesterday at Wellington Zoo and he leaves on August 29 aboard NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa.

NIWA are conducting a month-long fisheries survey on Campbell Island and Happy Feet will be released on the way, approximately four days out to sea, at about 53 degrees south.

Happy Feet will be housed in a specially designed travel crate constructed by Wellington Zoo staff, designed to keep him cold and comfortable during the voyage.

3 News filmed Happy Feet yesterday after the news was announced and we managed to film him calling and being fed.

Click on the video tab to watch the footage.

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. 

NIWA General Manager of Research, Dr Rob Murdoch says his team are "looking forward to having this extra special guest onboard the vessel with us for the journey".

"Happy Feet has captured the hearts of New Zealanders and people across the world, and we're pleased to be able to help safely return him to the Southern Ocean.

"It is really fortuitous that we are able to assist with Happy Feet’s return," he said.

Wellington Zoo chief executive Karen Fifield says it is a good outcome for the penguin and the zoo.

"This is an excellent result for everyone involved, and for the penguin, and is a great example of organisations working together for the best outcome.

"It is a fantastic coincidence that the Tangaroa's journey takes it to 53 degrees south, which is within the natural range of juvenile emperor penguins. They are often spotted on Campbell Island which lies at the same latitude."

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.

3 News

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