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Happy Feet the penguin has gone AWOL
Oct 8 2011 4:33AM


Happy Feet the emperor penguin has vanished. Happy Feet became a celebrity when he got off track and arrived in New Zealand in June. The penguin was equipped with a monitoring device before his discharge in early September. Friday morning, the device quit transmitting. Some fear Happy Feet could have become food for a larger predator. Source of article: Happy Feet the penguin has gone AWOL

2,000 miles off track

Named after the popular animated film, Happy Feet grew to become a celeb in June when he got confused about his course and ended up in New Zealand instead of in Antarctica. Experts think the bird mistook sand for snow, ate it and got ill. He was nursed back to health over the summer at the Wellington Zoo.

Put back where he belonged

Happy Feet was about a quarter of the way from New Zealand to Antarctica on a research ship when he was released on September 4. A tracking system was put on the bird so he could be tracked for a couple of months.

Didn’t get a transmission

Just like normal penguins looking for fish, Happy swam in a meandering fashion. He had traveled about 75 miles by Friday morning, just five days after his discharge, when the transmitter quit transmitting.

Possibilities

There are a few predators penguins have to deal with. This contains killer whales, large sharks and opens sea. Kevin Lay of Sirtrack, the firm that fitted the device, said:



<blockquote>"There are some species that will forage on emperor penguins. It's not likely that it has happened to Happy Feet because of the area he was in."</blockquote>



It might have just fallen off. That is always a possibility. The New Zealand department of conservation’s Peter Simpson said:


"Who knows? He's probably swimming along quite happily without a transmitter on his back."


Monitoring the bird in two ways

Under the bird’s skin, a second machine was placed. If Happy Feet gets close, an Antarctica penguin monitoring station would pick it up. Many believe he is only three years old. That means it could be a couple of years before he gets back to Antarctica.

'Time to harden up'

"It's unlikely that we will ever know what caused the transmission to cease," said New Zealand penguin expert Colin Miskelly. "It is time to harden up to the reality that the penguin has returned to the anonymity from which he emerged."


Information from

Radio Australia: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacbeat/stories/201109/s3316418.htm

Global Post: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/happy-feet-dead-penguins-tracker-falls-silent

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/13/happy-feet-penguin-vanish_n_959819.html

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