Sunday 28 May 2017

Happy Feet becomes internet star

Happy Feet the emperor penguin was discovered on a New Zealand beach six weeks ago (AP)
Happy Feet the emperor penguin was discovered on a New Zealand beach six weeks ago (AP)

A wayward emperor penguin, who was discovered on a New Zealand beach six weeks ago and will soon be returned to the wild, has become a star of the internet.

The penguin, named Happy Feet after the hit film, boasts an online following of more than 120,000 after a web camera was set up to monitor his every movement.

And thousands more are expected to follow his progress after he is released in the coming weeks, when feeds from a GPS tracker unit attached to his back will be posted online.

The penguin was discovered on June 20 on Peka Peka Beach, about 40 miles north-west of Wellington and far from his Antarctic feeding grounds. He was moved to the Wellington Zoo four days later after becoming ill from eating sand.

He has since gained weight and been given a clean bill of health to be returned to the ocean.

His unusual journey has captured worldwide interest. Local television station TV3 set up a webcam on June 30 in the small, ice-filled room at the zoo where Happy Feet has been recuperating.

The zoo sent a veterinarian to check the penguin late one night after TV3 was swamped by worried callers convinced Happy Feet had died, said zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker. It turned out the penguin was sleeping.

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