Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Lost penguin lands on wrong beach

The Emperor penguin on Peka Peka Beach in New Zealand after it got lost while hunting for food(AP)
The Emperor penguin on Peka Peka Beach in New Zealand after it got lost while hunting for food(AP)

An Antarctic Emperor penguin took a wrong turn and ended up stranded on a New Zealand beach.

It is the first time in 44 years one of the birds has been seen in the wild there.

Local Christine Wilton was taking her dog for a walk on Peka Peka Beach on the North Island's western coast when she discovered the bird.

"It was out-of-this-world to see it ... like someone just dropped it from the sky," she said.

"It looked like 'Happy Feet' - it was totally in the wrong place," she said, referring to the 2006 animated musical featuring a young penguin who finds himself far from home.

Conservation experts say the penguin is about 10 months old and is about 32 inches tall. Colin Miskelly, a curator at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, said the bird was probably born during the last Antarctic winter. It may have been searching for squid and krill when it took a got lost.

Emperor penguins are the tallest and largest species of penguin and can grow up to four feet tall.

Their amazing journey to breeding grounds deep in the Antarctic was chronicled in the 2005 documentary "March of the Penguins," which highlighted their ability to survive the brutal winter

Mr Miskelly said Emperor penguins can spend months at a time in the ocean, coming ashore only to moult or rest.

Peter Simpson from New Zealand's Department of Conservation said they planned to leave the penguin alone and let nature take its course.

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