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Happy Feet, The Lost Emperor Penguin, Will Head Home By Month's End

An Antarctic penguin pauses after treatment at Wellington Zoo in June.
Mark Mitchell
An Antarctic penguin pauses after treatment at Wellington Zoo in June.

The last time we checked in on Happy Feet, the Emperor Penguin that lost his way and ended up 2,000 miles from home in New Zealand was facing tough odds: He was at the Wellington Zoo, dehydrated and with a belly full of sand.

Well, we have some good news to report, today. The Wellington Zoo and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research (NIWA) announced that Happy Feet has been given a clean bill of health and will board a Niwa ship on Aug. 29 to start his voyage home.

The New Zealand Herald reports:

The penguin would be released 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".

"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," Ms Fifield said

Happy Feet would be fitted with a GPS tracker before he left Wellington to record his movements.

In a news release from the Wellington Zoo, NIWA scientists said they were happy to welcome the penguin onboard their vessel.

"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," said NIWA General Manager of Research, Dr Rob Murdoch.

The zoo said the public will be able to follow Happy Feet's progress . If you're so inclined, that site is also a place where you can sign a farewell card for the penguin.

Update at 1:51 p.m. ET. Penguin Live Cam:

NPR's Catherine Laidlaw sent us a link to a live cam of Happy Feet's home at the zoo. Also, there's a chat room there, where penguin enthusiasts are discussing the smaller details of Happy Feet's journey.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.