Pen­guin to hitch ride part­way to Antarc­tica

Shanghai Daily - - WORLD -

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.

The pen­guin — af­fec­tion­ately dubbed “Happy Feet” — drew in­tense in­ter­est af­ter be­ing spot­ted on North Is­land’s Peka Peka Beach, about 3,200 kilo­me­ters from its nat­u­ral habi­tat in Antarc­tica. The crea­ture’s health quickly de­clined when it be­gan eat­ing sand and sticks, but the bird is be­gin­ning to re­cover.

Wildlife of­fi­cials have been try­ing to fig­ure out how the 80- cen­time­ter- tall bird will re­turn home. They ini­tially dis­missed the idea of trans­port­ing it to Antarc­tica be­cause of lo­gis­ti­cal dif­fi­cul­ties and the fear that it could trans­mit in­fec­tions picked up dur­ing its New Zealand va­ca­tion to other pen­guins.

Yes­ter­day, an ad­vi­sory group headed by the 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 rea­son for not re­turn­ing the pen­guin di­rectly to Antarc­tica is that em­peror pen­guins of this age are usu­ally found north of Antarc­tica on pack ice and in the open ocean,” Peter Simp­son, the depart­ment’s bio­di­ver­sity spokesman, said.

The area where it will be re­leased is on the north­ern edge of the re­gion where young em­peror pen­guins are known to live. Simp­son said he was un­sure how far the pen­guin would have to swim be­fore reach­ing its fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.

Happy Feet, nick­named af­ter the 2006 an­i­mated movie, is the first em­peror pen­guin to be seen in the wild in New Zealand in 44 years. Ex­perts aren’t sure if it’s male or fe­male. The pen­guin is re­cov­er­ing at Welling­ton Zoo, where it un­der­went a med­i­cal pro­ce­dure on Mon­day to help flush out sand it swal­lowed af­ter ap­par­ently mis­tak­ing it for snow.

Doc­tors man­aged to re­move some of the sand from its di­ges­tive sys­tem, and zoo spokes­woman Kate Baker said X-rays showed the pen­guin was pass­ing the rest of the sand nat­u­rally. The crea­ture is be­ing kept in iso­la­tion in an air-con­di­tioned room filled with large blocks of ice.

“The plan from now on is to let him rest, feed him and X-ray him again on Fri­day or Satur­day to see how much sand has passed,” Baker said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.