Zoo Plans Release of Lost Penguin
'Happy Feet' still improving, but it's only getting a partway-ride home
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 29, 2011 3:44 PM CDT
Happy Feet, at its temporary New Zealand zoo home.   (Mark Mitchell)
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(Newser) – A young emperor penguin that turned up on a New Zealand beach won't be getting a free ride all the way back to its Antarctic home—but the bird's human friends will at least help it get a little closer. Today, an advisory group headed by the nation's Department of Conservation decided officials will help the penguin get part of the way home by releasing it into the Southern Ocean, southeast of New Zealand—and letting it swim the rest of the way.

The area where it will be released is on the northern edge of the region where young emperor penguins are known to live. Officials were unsure how far the penguin would have to swim before reaching its final destination. Nor is it clear when the big release will occur: The penguin, nicknamed Happy Feet, is still recovering after surgery to remove sand and twigs it ate.