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'Happy Feet' goes online for Antarctic return

By Colin Ricketts - 17 Aug 2011 13:50:0 GMT
'Happy Feet' goes online for Antarctic return

A penguin who caught the world's imagination when he turned up on a New Zealand beach thousands of miles from home can be tracked online by his millions of new friends as he returns to the Antarctic.

'Happy Feet', a juvenile Emperor Penguin, was washed up on Peka Peka beach close to Wellington in June, around 3,000 miles from where he should have been.

Happy Feet is only the second Emperor Penguin ever found in New Zealand and caused a media storm with hundreds watching an operation to treat him for damage caused by eating sand and sticks.

Scientists argued over whether to return the wondering penguin to the South Pole, with the possible risk of introducing a foreign virus to his colony, or give him a new home in a New Zealand or California zoo.

Now though, 'Happy Feet' is to return to the icy wastes of Antarctica and thanks to New Zealand company Sirtrack, wildlife watchers around the globe will be able to track his future movements online.

Currently being treated by specialists before his return to the wild, Happy Feet will wear an Argos Satellite transmitter donated by the company.

The device, specially designed for penguins, will be fitted under the supervision of wildlife experts from the New Zealand Department of Conservation and the Te Papa museum.

The tracker device will drop off in the summer moult after recording Happy Feet's movements and the temperature of the water in which he's swimming.

Sirtrack are donating the satellite transmitter and Dr Gareth Morgan is funding the communications costs associated with retrieving the data.

You will be able to follow the progress of Happy Feet online via Sirtrack or the Our Far South website.

Image Credit: Emperor Penguin © Gentoo Multimedia