Penguin headed home from New Zealand

Aug. 17, 2011 at 12:53 PM
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- The New Zealand zoo hosting the first emperor penguin to swim to the country since 1967 said the bird has booked passage home on a research boat.

The Wellington Zoo said the penguin, dubbed Happy Feet after it arrived in the country in June, will depart with the Tangaroa, the largest research vessel of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Aug. 29 and will be released about four days out to sea.

The zoo said Dr. Lisa Argilla, manager of veterinary science at Wellington Zoo, will accompany the penguin on the journey and will be assisted by a pair of specially trained NIWA staff members.

"We are really pleased that NIWA will be releasing the emperor penguin," Wellington Zoo Chief Executive Karen Fifield said. "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," Fifield said.

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