28 Jun 2011

Scientists deciding how to release emperor penguin

12:05 pm on 28 June 2011

Scientists are deciding how best to release a young emperor penguin back into the wild.

The bird nicknamed Happy Feet turned up on Peka Peka beach on the Kapiti Coast near Wellington last week, thousands of kilometres from its Antarctic home.

It became unwell after eating sticks and sand at Peka Peka beach, thinking it was snow.

It has undergone three operations to remove the contents of its stomach at Wellington Zoo and is recovering well.

Penguin expert John Cockrem from Massey University says the bird should be released into Foveaux Strait at the bottom of the South Island should it return to full health.

He says that is what happened to the first emperor penguin that arrived on New Zealand shores in the 1960s.

Dr Cockrem says New Zealand does not have the right facilities to keep the bird cool and the closest facility in California is too far away.