Scientists Lose Track of 'Happy Feet' Penguin

Transmitter probably fell off, trackers hope
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2011 3:16 AM CDT
Scientists Lose Track of 'Happy Feet' Penguin
The wayward emperor penguin, found on a New Zealand beach in June and known to the world as Happy Feet, checks out his enclosure aboard the research vessel Tangaroa.   (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell)

(Newser) – The story of "Happy Feet," the wayward emperor penguin that turned up in New Zealand, has captivated the world, but we may never know how it ends. The young penguin was returned to the wild last week and a transmitter that was attached to him has stopped relaying information to scientists, reports the BBC. He may have been eaten. But the penguin-trackers believe it's much more likely that the transmitter simply fell off.

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"Tag loss is quite common in wildlife studies," a spokesman for animal-tracking company Sirtrack tells the Herald Sun. Before he fell off the radar, Happy Feet had been behaving exactly as a penguin preparing for a long journey should. Scientists believe that since he has been fitted with a microchip, he may be heard from again if he pops up at a penguin colony where a researcher is present. (Read more emperor penguins stories.)

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