Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Lost penguin cleared for release

An Emperor penguin is seen on Peka Peka Beach of the Kapiti Coast in New Zealand (AP)

New Zealand's favourite penguin visitor has been given a health clearance to be returned to the wild.

The news comes five weeks after he was found on a beach more than 2,000 miles from his Antarctic home.

The emperor penguin nicknamed Happy Feet has been recuperating at the Wellington Zoo since soon after he was discovered on the North Island.

He is the first emperor penguin to be found in the wild in New Zealand in 44 years.

He became ill after eating sand, likely mistaking it for snow.

Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said the penguin has gained about 9lb and this week passed an X-ray and blood test.

Ms Baker said the penguin will probably be released offshore from the south end of the country sometime in the next few weeks.

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