Lifestyle & Belief

What happened to New Zealand's adorable penguin?


In this handout photo provided by SeaWorld San Diego, a new Emperor penguin is shown at SeaWorld on October 4, 2010, in San Diego, California.


Mike Aguilera

The young penguin from Antarctica who apparently got lost and ended up in New Zealand has been recovering at the Wellington Zoo and beginning to get his strength back.

The Emperor penguin may soon be moved from his hospital room to a pool retreat, reports NZPA.

The penguin, nicknamed Happy Feet after the 2006 movie, accidentally swam 2,000 miles and landed on a beach in New Zealand three weeks ago.

Environmental officials first suggested that though the penguin could not survive in New Zealand, they would "let nature take its course."

(From GlobalPost in Cape Town: African penguins battle extinction)

However, Happy Feet quickly captivated children and adults alike in New Zealand and around the world. When he became sick after mistaking sand for ice and eating it for hydration, vets took him to Wellington Zoo and performed multiple procedures on him to get rid of the sand, rocks, sticks and other liquids from his stomach. One of New Zealand's top surgeons volunteered to operate on Happy Feet.

The New Zealand Herald reports that Happy Feet has managed to make a come back and has been eating up to two kilograms of salmon a day. Staff reportedly say Happy Feet now weighs 23 kilograms and is getting stronger by the day.

"He's getting stronger and stronger every day," Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker told the New Zealand Herald. "Actually, when the vet grabs him for medication or something, he's fighting a lot more. He's really looking good."

During his stay at the hospital, Happy Feet has been kept in an air-conditioned private room at the hospital. Staff say that he may soon be moved to a saltwater pool to give him more of a playground.

"You can compare him in his enclosure to someone in hospital in terms of boredom,'' Baker told NZPA.

The pool house will also enable Happy Feet's fans to watch him.