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Thursday, August 18, 2011

A p-p-p-perfect ending: 'Happy Feet' the wandering penguin set to return home aboard research boat within fortnight

-Comedian Stephen Fry among the well wishers at New Zealand zoo

By Daily Mail Reporter

Since he collapsed exhausted on a beach in New Zealand 2000 miles from his home in Antarctica, 'Happy Feet' the penguin has become something of a celebrity.

Now after over a month recuperating at Wellington Zoo, the wandering bird has finally been given the all-clear to return to the wild.

The Emperor penguin will head back to his friends in the Antarctic in a specially designed cage aboard a research vessel leaving on August 29.

Among the hundreds of well wishers to visit Happy Feet at the zoo was comedian Stephen Fry who turned up while filming a documentary for the BBC.

A top New Zealand surgeon had to remove nearly 7lb of sand from his stomach which the starving bird had eaten, likely mistaking it for sand.

But since then Happy Feet has made a full recovery, gaining about 9lb in weight and passing X-ray and blood tests with flying colors.

Rob Murdoch of NIWA, the organization that operates the vessel taking him back home, said: 'The NIWA team are looking forward to having this extra special guest onboard the vessel with us for the journey.

'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.'

A veterinarian from Wellington Zoo will accompany Happy Feet, who will travel in a crate specially designed to keep him cool and comfortable during the voyage.

The doctor will see you now: One of New Zealand's top surgeons John Wyeth (second right) led a medical team to perform an endoscopy on the ailing Emperor penguin. They removed twigs, stones and sand clogging the penguin's gut

Does anyone know the way to Antarctica? Happy Feet was discovered on a New Zealand beach 2000 miles from home

The cage will be fitted with a tracker that will allow fans to monitor his progress on websites, including www.sirtrack.com and www.ourfarsouth.org among others.

The bird became the focus of the media after it turned up on a beach some 2,500 miles from its home, only the second Emperor penguin known to have shown up in New Zealand.



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