Haere Ra Happy Feet - Extended footage
28-Aug 18:59
Hundreds of messages for Happy Feet were left at Wellington Zoo today before he starts his journey home tomorrow

By Lloyd Burr

Wellington Zoo went all out today as they held a farewell party for Happy Feet who sets off on his homeward journey tomorrow.

Thousands of visitors dressed up in black and white, had their faces painted, wrote their goodbye messages on a giant card and got to watch Happy Feet’s final check-up.

The penguin had a full examination, has blood samples taken, a microchip inserted and a GPS tracker glued to his back.


  • Click on the video tab to watch extended footage of Happy Feet’s penultimate day at Wellington Zoo.

The refugee emperor penguin even attracted Wellington City Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and television crews from Australia.

He heads away tomorrow on NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa and will be released four days later at 51 degrees south near Campbell Island.

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.

A special travel enclosure, where Happy Feet will spend his four days on the ship, has been constructed and is ready to be occupied.

Happy Feet was found on Peka Peka Beach north of Wellington in June and Wellington Zoo took him in after he started eating sand and sticks.

While the media are not allowed to join Happy Feet for his entire journey home, 3 News will spend one night on the boat with him and he will be fitted with a GPS tracker so fans will still be able to keep track of his progress.

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