Penguin Lost in New Zealand; Needs Human Intervention to Survive.
When the bird had washed up ashore at Peka Peka Beach in New Zealand, the bird was eating sand mistaking it for snow to hydrate itself. At first, they decided to leave it alone, let nature take its course by letting it return to Antarctica on its own. After several health check-ups, Veterinarians determined the little bird was not cable of returning without some human intervention.
The little Emperor Penguin now nicknamed "Happy Feet" is not out of the woods yet. The penguin transported in a large ice bucket on Friday to the Wellington zoo and was put on intravenous drip immediately due to signs of distress. There, Veterinarians flushed the birds system on Friday and Saturday to try to remove the sand that had clogged up the digestive system. This morning, Zoo officials said the bird was recovering well after an endoscopy was performed by one of New Zealand's leading surgeons - for human patients removing sand and twigs. They further reported the bird was now standing up, eating fish slurry and much more active. The penguin is being housed in a room at the zoo chilled to about 46 degrees Fahrenheit and sleeping on a bed of ice. Veterinarians speculate that the bird will need at least 3 months of recuperation before going anywhere.
Experts still don't know if it's a male or female although DNA samples should soon provide an answer.
As for the bird's future, it is unclear at the moment. A New Zealand investment adviser, Gareth Morgan, who is leading an expedition to Antarctica next February, on Saturday offered Happy Feet a trip home aboard a Russian icebreaker. But it would not be for another eight months. Whether officials choose to take Morgan up on his offer may depend on Happy Feet's health. But they agreed a ship would be less stressful for the little bird than being put on a global flight back to Antarctica.
If a trip back to the Antarctic doesn't pan out, there's always the offer of a more sheltered life. Another option came from SeaWorld in San Diego, CA, who has the only colony of emperor penguins in North America. SeaWorld would be willing to step in and help the little bird if he survives and cannot return to the wild. Thirty birds live at SeaWorld in a 25-degree Fahrenheit (minus 4 Celsius) habitat that simulates Antarctica, with up to 5,000 pounds of snow blown in every day.
Happy Feet has survived two medical procedures and now has an offer of a lift home. Only time will tell if the little penguin will survive but he made it 2,000 miles lost in the ocean so if they can remove the sand, he has a great chance of survival. I know we are all hoping for a good ending to this story.
If the bird ends up in Sea World, I think it will become an instant celebrity. I certainly would enjoy going to see the little worldwide traveler.
This picture depicts the little bird when it was first found last week.