By Lloyd Burr
For most of the last ten weeks, Happy Feet’s day-to-day activities have consisted of standing or lying in his enclosure, occasionally preening his feathers and sometimes treating Wellington Zoo staff to his unique call.
But today, the schedule gets much busier for the refugee emperor penguin as Zoo and NIWA staff make final preparations for his journey home, which starts this evening. Hundreds of people turned up to Wellington Zoo yesterday to say goodbye and wish Happy Feet a safe journey home.
Happy Feet had his last meal on New Zealand soil at 9:30am but didn’t have his daily ice replenishment.
He will spend all morning in his enclosure, giving the thousands of fans around the world the last chance to watch him on the 3 News live stream.
Media accompanying Happy Feet for his first night on NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa will have a safety briefing about their voyage at midday.
After this meeting, at around 2pm, Happy Feet will be moved into his new enclosure, bid farewell to the zoo and head to Burnham Wharf on Shelly Bay Road in Miramar to board the ship.
At 3pm, media will board the ship for a small press conference
At 5pm, final preparations will be made for the ship’s departure.
At 6pm, the ship is scheduled to depart.
Wellington Zoo's manager of veterinary science Dr Lisa Argilla will accompany Happy Feet on his journey home.
She will be assisted by two NIWA staff who have been trained to feed and care for the penguin over the last week.
While the media are not allowed to join Happy Feet for his entire journey home, 3 News will spend one night on the ship with him and he has been fitted with a GPS tracker so fans will still be able to keep track of his progress.