The global penguin – Part 10. It’s only a game.

The global penguin – Part 10. It’s only a game.

Curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly tells the tenth instalment of the unfolding story of the emperor penguin that went where none had gone before.

Previous blogs on the penguin were posted between 23 June and 8 September.

Israel Dagg scores the opening try at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Photo : Reuters

One story has dominated New Zealand media since Friday 9 September 2011. The opening of the 7th Rugby World Cup. A spectacular opening ceremony at Eden Park was followed by the top-ranked All Blacks’ clash with Tonga. Endless column-inches and air-time were filled with discussion of whether tyro Israel Dagg had done enough with his 2-try haul to displace veteran fullback Mils Muliaina, whether captain Richie McCaw has lost his mojo, and the truly big question of whether the All Blacks (the most successful international sports team in world history) can win back the William Webb Ellis trophy that they last held following the inaugural 1987 tournament.

Not surprisingly, the national media have paid no attention in the one ongoing New Zealand story that is the focus of international interest: a missing penguin.

Blog #9 “Heading home, or heading east?” described the south-easterly track that the penguin took for the first 4 days after his release, from 4 September to the (NZ time) morning of 8 September. For the next 24 hours he continued on an easterly track. And then nothing. The last signal was received at 20:11:51 UTC on 8 September (about 8:12 am on 9 September, NZ Standard Time).

The emperor penguin’s path from release on 4 September until transmissions ceased on 9 September. Map supplied by Sirtrack

There are a multitude of reasons why the signal from the transmitter could fail to appear on our screens, and most of them have been mentioned in comments on the previous blog or in Sirtrack NZEmperor tweets. These range from the transmitter no longer sending a signal (transmitter failure or damage), to signals not being received by the satellite (e.g. due to the penguin diving, or the transmitter falling off and sinking, or the transmitter being inside a larger predator), to not enough signals being received (4 or more signals are required per satellite pass for a plotable fix), through to technical failures at the satellite or terrestrial receiving station, or in the software used to filter and map the locations.

For a while, it appeared that an extra-terrestrial higher authority was responsible for the lack of signals. Intense solar flare activity since 9 September played havoc with satellite communications, leading to widespread speculation that this was blocking transmission of the transmitter signals. But sadly no; data from other satellite transmitters have been received by Sirtrack without any apparent problems. The lack of even a single satellite message since last Friday indicates that the transmitter has not broken the surface of the sea at all since then.

The last data download received from the KiwiSat 202 satellite transmitter glued to the emperor penguin’s back. Data funded by Gareth Morgan KiwiSaver and provided by Sirtrack

It is unlikely that we will ever know what caused the transmissions to cease, but it is time to harden up to the reality that the penguin has returned to the anonymity from which he emerged on 20 June. The Sirtrack team will keep trying to recover a signal, and we will post an update if they succeed. And maybe, just maybe, he will surprise us all by turning up at a monitored emperor penguin colony, where the transponder inserted under the skin on his thigh will remind us all that once upon a time, a long time ago, he was more than just another penguin.

Previous blogs on this topic:

The global penguin – Part 1. How a lone emperor ventured into superstardom

The global penguin – Part 2. The young emperor penguin pushes the boundaries and is taken into care

The global penguin – Part 3. No latitude for error: a young emperor penguin a long way from home

The global penguin – Part 4. How to track a wandering emperor penguin

The global penguin – Part 5. The rocky road to fame

The global penguin – Part 6. Hitching a ride south

The global penguin – Part 7. The wandering emperor penguin enters the technological age

The global penguin – Part 8. Free at last!

The global penguin – Part 9. Heading home, or heading east?

For later blogs on this bird:

The global penguin – Part 11. How old was the Peka Peka emperor penguin?

The global penguin – Part 12. The final word?


  1. Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article.
    Many thanks for providing these details.

  2. It would appear that Happy Feet is too young to be in the
    Emperor penguin colonies now. If you read Karen Robertson’s
    posts of October, she mentions how Happy Feet was likely to
    be around 10 months old when released.

    So, Happy Feet may be at sea, for some time, before he’s old
    enough to mate, and join the colonies. Let’s hope that all is
    well with him, and that he thrives!

  3. Hi Amy and Teresa – again just touching base, reading comments with great interest and have not lost faith Happy Feet is alive and well. Cheers!

  4. Read Colin Miskelly’s #11 blog on the estimated age of Happy Feet.
    It would appear that Happy Feet would be too young to be in the
    colonies — and would be where the juvenile Emperor penguins are.

    See above link.

  5. A new blog, #11, by Colin Miskelly, estimates Happy Feet to be
    about 11 months old. This makes it pertinent as to his release by
    Campbell Island.

    See the blog:

  6. Interesting. Then how was it supposed to work when they first released Happy Feet and said that he had a microchip implanted in him so that, if and when he reached a monitored colony, we would be able to put up his signals?

  7. I stand corrected on my last statement. But the microchip would probably
    require someone with a radio transmitter being in the same area as Happy
    Feet to identify him.

  8. Teresa,

    Most likely not. In order to read the microchip, someone would have to be
    standing close to Happy Feet.

    I think it’s not like a transmitter driven device like SirTrack — which has
    quite a range. It’s probably more like microchips that domesticated pets

  9. I guess my question is, even if the group was being kept from accessing areas where Emperor penguin colonies are located, weren’t they close enough to any of them to detect Happy Feet’s microchip?

  10. Teresa,

    Here is an excerpt of the group being kept from Ross Sea, where on the map
    shows several colonies:

    Over the last 24 hours we have been zig zagging our way up the Ross Sea. The ship is carefully dodging large areas of sea ice that we don’t want to get trapped in. Captain Dmitry is trying to find a suitable area for us to land so we can walk on Antarctica but the moment Antarctica seems to be putting up big protective barriers to stop us getting on land! We are now sailing south again from Cape Adare to Possession Islands in the hope that those islands are not blocked by ice and we can ‘make land.’

  11. Amy, you are amazing. Maybe you should consider a future in this line of work! Great work and findings. That map was really helpful. I didn’t realize there were so many new, up-and-coming colonies.

    Those blogs would be great, because now I am wondering what area exactly the group reached and from how many colonies they would have been able to pick up detection.

  12. Teresa,

    I think I read on one or two of the blogs discussing Antarctica, the group
    was able to visit various sites there — but had their activity curtailed later,
    because of the ice surrounding the port areas.

    I’ll look for those blogs, and will provide a link if possible. Maybe that’s
    why there wasn’t a more active search for Happy Feet.

  13. Look at the blue illustration. Click on it to enlarge it. It shows many
    more locales for the penguin colonies.

  14. That is very sad to hear, Amy. I was very hopeful, as I am sure many were, that G. Morgan would come across Happy Feet. It’s hard to accept the lack of closure.

    Does anyone know if there are other Emperor penguin colonies that Happy Feet could have landed at that Morgan and his crew did not visit?

  15. We’re anxiously awaiting your stories…welcome home. Mark

  16. I sent an email to Gareth Morgan early this morning, asking about the
    Happy Feet search. Since he wasn’t able to access his emails, his
    personal assistant sent me a reply.

    She said that they had seen Emperor Penguins at Macquarie Island, and
    near Scott Base, Antarctica. However, Happy Feet was not among either
    group of penguins.

    Sorry folks, if I got your hopes up too high…with the previous posts.
    We can all remember Happy Feet, with good memories of his adventures
    in New Zealand.

  17. No news of Happy Feet by Gareth Morgan….

    Sorry folks, I’ve skimmed through blogs, tweets, and Facebook entries –
    of the trip to Antarctica, but there’s no news of Happy Feet — if he was
    searched for.

    Gareth’s group had an eventful trip to Antarctica, and are on their way
    back now.
    See the following link on Facebook, for entries on the trip.

  18. That’s a great display and statue of Happy Feet! Thanks, Amy!

    Oh, how I hope that we get some great news about our little friend!!

  19. Gareth Morgan sails off to Antarctica next week!

    Let’s hope he has good news of Happy Feet!

  20. Great link, Amy, thank you. And it sounds like February could be an interesting month – hopefully much to follow and discover regarding Happy Feet!

    Best to all!

  21. Happy New Year to all friends of Happy Feet!
    Great links yet again folks!
    We all know that Happy Feet should be Time Magazine Critter of the Year!
    Best wishes to all for 2012, and let’s keep our fingers crossed that Mr. Morgan will have an amazing surprise when he journeys to the far south!!!
    Cheers to Happy Feet and all of his friends.

  22. Thank you, Chenoa, and same to you as well! Yes, we are looking forward to and hoping for some good news about Happy Feet! Let’s hope that 2012 brings that. But as you appropriately said, let’s also hope for happiness, good health, and goodness overall for everyone.

  23. Farewell, 2011…and may the new year favor us all with happiness, good health, good company, and good fortune…..not to mention some ‘good news’…that our favorite penguin has been found.

    Wishing you a Happy New Year, dear friends of HF!


  24. Hi Amy,

    Great article, so the world is not forgotten Happy Feet!!!
    Let’s hope that Dr. Morgan finds him en that he is in good condition.
    To all Happy Feets’s friends:
    Have all a Happy Newyear !!!!!!!

    Greatings from the Netherlands

  25. Wow, that is so awesome!! I didn’t even know that Time Magazine has an Animal of the Year award. That is so amazing that Happy Feet received that recognition!

    If he shows up on the radar or Dr. Morgan finds him, can you all imagine how much more celebrity status Happy Feet will get?! 🙂

    Cheers to Happy Feet, in Nancy’s words! Let’s hope that the New Year brings in some wonderful news about his location!

    Thanks, Amy!

  26. Great links! Have a wonderful holiday season, let’s keep hoping Happy Feet surprises everyone!
    Good luck to Mr Morgan and his team!
    Cheers to Happy Feet !!!

  27. Oh, Amy, thank you SO much for finding and sharing those links! I am so encouraged to read that Gareth Morgan and his crew have not forgotten Happy Feet and are still determined to find him!

    As I was reading the links, Mr. Morgan indicated that he believes that Happy Feet may have swum out of range. Is it me or is this a new theory? I don’t believe that I have heard this before. Of course, with all the theories floating around, I may have lost track, but I feel like I would have remembered this one.

    I do hope for a miracle and for some wonderful news from Mr. Morgan regarding Happy Feet!

  28. Thanks for the link, Amy….I hope that Gareth Morgan finds HF….Like searching for a needle in a haystack…I only wish that the Zoo had waited until February for this expedition’s departure to release HF in the first place!

    Anyway, miracles do happen….

  29. In the above article, it describes Gareth Morgan’s 2012 trip to Antarctica.
    Morgan will search for Happy Feet, while there.

  30. Quickly touching base again – wonderful link/post re: the glue. Makes sense!!!!
    Wonderful people to maintain caring. Cheers to Happy Stroppy Feet!

  31. Thanks for that information, Marianne, I believe it too! Let’s keep waiting and checking!

  32. Hi Teresa,

    I mean that HF is on ice, also he is a juvenal he needs to mold but
    not in a colony.
    The molting time is between Dec-Jan and than HF most be on ice.
    So the end of november HF most be in the Artic waters on ice.
    I believe he is!!!!!!!.

    ( sorry for my english from the Netherlands )

  33. Amy, that link is great! Thanks so much to all who are keeping up with and sharing any news or developments on Happy Feet! I am so happy to be among others who care so much! That link really instills hope. It was a very good idea to conduct the experiment because it sounds like it was very realistic and reliable. Although it does make me wonder if they could have done so before releasing Happy Feet so that so many wouldn’t have been left depondent over this little creature’s fate.

    But yes, I, too, am confident that he is doing well! And like Marianne said, he’s too young to molt (is that the word?), so he is likely still spending his time in the ocean. I do recall someone mentioning something about the end of November, that we might hear from him then. I am not sure what that was based on. But if anyone has any clarification, please feel free to share!

    Go Happy Feet!

  34. Hi Amy,

    Thanx for the link!
    I’am pretty sure that HF is somewhere on the Artic-ice, not in a
    colony, he is still a juvenal so he only needs to be on the
    ice to mold.
    HF is back in his natural environment an in anonymity wich is great so
    he can life his live as an Emperor Penguin!!!!!!!!
    Greatings from the Netherlands.

  35. Hi all….still checking in, still hoping for news of HF…

  36. I just thought it was interesing that this past weekend seemed to be devoted to penguin documentaries on the National Geographic channel. I half expected them to make some kind of reference to Happy Feet but didn’t hear anything. Nonetheless, the timing seems interesting. I was wondering if our little guy’s experience may have had something to do with the heightened interest.

  37. I agree, Marianne, the comment about Happy Feet possibly being eaten was not necessary or appropriate. But I do feel that the sculpture is a fitting testament to him! And like you, I am very confident that Happy Feet is doing well and is almost home! I just really hope we get to find that out from his microchip!

    I, too, still check this blog every day! :)))

  38. Hi Teresa,

    Nice to make a sculpture of Happy Feet.
    Pitty that they opend whit that HF is maybe eaten by a shark.
    I believe that HF is almost home and the he is a life!!!!!!!!!!
    Fingers crossed.
    And I check this blog every day.
    Greatings from the Netherlands

  39. Karen, your video deserves all those fans and supporters! I think you should find a way to promote it even more – EVERYONE should be able to see it!

    Also, great info and research on the microchip and the molting and mating habits of the emperor penguins. So maybe the experts knew a little what they were doing when they released Happy Feet when and where they did? It sounds to me like we needed to cooperate and work with his natural and God-given instincts and survival patterns and that he will follow these on his journey.

    I will not stop searching for news, though, and any updates at all. I continue to look every day and hope that we might still receive some good word soon!

  40. Thanks, Marianne, Nancy and Teresa for supporting the video. It’s been out just a week and has almost 50,000 views already from all over the world, showing the huge interest in HF which continues since the tracker loss. I’ve learned a lesson about helping our animal friends in a life-threatening situation but not being overly protective of them much beyond that point through all of this. The “mother hen” in me wished he’d gotten “home safely” on that ship that leaves in February for the Antarctic. Now I realize that he needs to be on the Antarctic ice for a month to molt normally BEFORE February. He’ll be there – swimming – by late November! Time to let go and let nature take its course!

  41. Hi Karen, what a great video!!!
    I’ll believe the same as you do, that Happy Feet is on his
    way home, and he will make it!
    He’s got his change on second live and that’s the greatest
    thing to do for him.
    Let’s hope HF got a long and Happy live ahead of him!
    Marianne, greatings from the Netherlands.

  42. Hi folks – just quickly touching base – read your comments and viewed the you tube video FANTASTIC VIDEO!!! Real tribute to the little guy and a great reminder that Happy Feet IS At HOME – his ocean. I think of him daily, reflect upon his remarkable species and try to support environmental endeavors whenever possible. His journey has been an eyeopener on many levels for many!!! Cheers to Happy Feet!

  43. Thanks for the positive comments on the video. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter and would LOVE for someone to get a reference to the video on those NZPenguin sites. I spent this morning researching the microchip thing, Teresa. You can search “Microchip Scanning at London Zoo” to see a video of how it works. It’s basically like with a pet. The animal has to be scanned at fairly close range, so the answer is that the penguin would have to be at a colony with sensors installed around the penguins and get near one. There are six established colonies in the area they believe Happy Feet will be headed back to when he’s ready to mate, but I can’t find any information indicating that they have sensors. Maybe they do, or will, by then. In my research I found statements that the area where HF was let off actually IS in the range of juvenile emperor penguins and that this is the time they’d be headed back because they need to be on ice (but not in a colony) for about a month in December-January to molt. All the empire penguins are at sea between January-February and March-April, when the adults go back to their colonies to mate and the juveniles stay at sea.Then the adult males and females alternate going to sea while the chicks hatch and are fed. Then in Dec-Jan all go to sea, including the chicks. We’re talking about thousands of breeding pairs. What an awesome spectacle!

  44. Great information, Karen, thank you. So, could the microchip in Happy Feet possibly pick up and transmit a signal if and when he arrives at the continental ice around the end of the November, or would it only do so when he arrives at an actual colony? Do you know?

    Also, I agree with your last sentence 100%. Penguins are survivors and Happy Feet is doing what he was created and designed to do. As I have said before, even if I never get to hear confirmation of his arrival, his story has been a success because it has opened my eyes, and those of countless others, to the plight and cause of these incredible creatures, as well as of others, and of the environment, and how much we can make a difference.

  45. Teresa, the problem on all of this relates to what his actual age is. My hunch is that, he is a “juvenile” based on his size and markings and was 10 months old when he arrived. If that’s the case, he will get back to the continental ice around the end of November but will stay at sea for another two years in his territorial waters there before he is mature enough to actually return to the continent itself to find a mate. His getting back to the area is dependent on his speed and direction. He stays in the water from the age of 6 months to at least three or even four years before he leaves the water to join a colony and mate on the continental ice. So if he were actually 3 1/2 years old, he’d be ready to mate next year. I think the older age is an error which got passed on in the media. If he’s about a year and a half old by the time he gets to the continent, he’ll stay in the water for several more years and we won’t hear from him during that time, if we ever do. There’s been a lot of misinformation surrounding all this. I personally believe he’s on his way to where he needs to be, will get there, and will have a normal penguin life, whether we ever get confirmation of that or not.

  46. Thanks for sharing your research, Karen. Again, great video (I saved it under my favorites so that I can keep watching it). I am so interested in this cause that I also went out and bought a penguin book!

    I didn’t realize that emperor penguins swim so fast! That’s amazing and very good news! But I agree with you on all fronts – my maternal instincts also make me want to know that he’s home, or at least on his way and in the right direction.

    I thought that I had heard, when Happy Feet was first found, that he was about 10 months old and then thought that had changed to about 3 1/2 years old. After more than 2 months of care, how do they not know how old he was?? Why would that number change??

    Also, I thought I heard somewhere (in your video, Karen, perhaps?) something about him arriving somewhere by the end of November? If that was in your video, Karen, could you explain that further? I am trying to reconcile the November timeline with the data that he may not mate for a few more years and may not settle in a colony until that time.

  47. Teresa, I just got an email saying that Happy Feet is only 10 months old. That sounds too young,but if he was10 months old when he was found, instead of the 3 1/2 years stated in the newspaper articles I’ve read, he’s NOT old enough to mate next year as I stated. He won’t be mating for several more years and will stay at sea during that time. I question both numbers.

  48. Thanks, Teresa. It was great fun putting this together, and I learned so much about these amazing birds. The penguin predators eat the young and the weak, which stay near the continental ice. At his stage, Happy Feet has 20 years ahead and 95% survival odds and is better off at sea, though he needs to get back to his territorial waters. These birds can swim up to 60 km an hour so are not at risk for predators in open seas. He won’t go back to his colony until he’s molted and matured, when he’ll return to mate. There are a number of colonies, but few have the equipment to pick up his signal, though my maternal instincts make me want to KNOW he got HOME. He’s a nearly indestructible little swimming machine. He’ll be old enough to return to mate next year. I’d love it if we’d hear he’d found a mate!

  49. What a phenomental video!! Did you put that together, Karen? Brilliant, adorable, and tugs at the heart. It was so nice to review the most important quotes that we’ve heard (and some we might not have ever heard) from the experts who knew Happy Feet and who know about emperor penguins. It reminds us that Happy Feet is home, and was created to know what to do! That information about him possibly arriving at a colony by the end of November was encouraging and I will be watching ever closely for news at that point!!

    Go Happy Feet!!

  50. Thousands of views worldwide for the new YouTube video “Happy Feet Penguin Lives!” This highly informative video traces New Zealand’s recently released lost penguin Happy Feet’s tracker loss and current journey south in stunning photos. Check it out. Share.

    {On Google, choose the video with the penguin pic, not the ocean pic.)

  51. I would just like to thank all who stuck their necks out in order to support this Emperor Penguin and demand that he be helped, while being left on the beach to die. If you hadn’t made a stand, we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of watching Happy Feet on live stream, nor would the Wellington Zoo Vets and staff, have had the privilege and experience of working with this Emperor Penguin. Going by statistics, this will probably be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Given the monetary contributions of many and the general, genuine concern for Happy Feet, I feel his release so far from ice floes or his home, is despicable. He has been released back to the wild; wild indeed. The sound of the wiping of hands is deafening.

  52. Hi folks, just checking back, glad to hear your comments with which I agree!!! Thanks for the links (especially the one for the jerk in NZ parliament)!
    Still worried about the little global penguin, let’s keep hoping for the best.
    Agreed – would be nice to hear more from Dr. Argilla, and one does wonder if the Zoo instructed her to close the story down.
    Very good point Chenoa about supporting with $ and votes, those who are dedicated to cleaning up the environmental messes we have created!!!! Education also key component here.
    Gotta run, take care all.
    Cheers to stroppy, Happy Feet.

  53. That’s exactly the point, Chenoa. Dr. Argilla is the link to HF. She’s the expert on the topic. And while no one expects her to know what happened to HF or to go and find him, we do look to and expect her to have some expert opinions. When HF was first “lost,” she offered her insight which included information about HF preening and trying to get the tracker off in the days that preceded his release. That helped and reassured countless fans. Now that a new wave of gossip is surfacing, it would again be nice to hear from the one who was part of the decision to release him and where to release him. I believe that Dr. Argilla and the scientists involved considered everything, including the possibility of fishing nets and predators, when they chose the location they did. It would now be nice to hear more from them on these issues.

    I emailed the Zoo on this point – hopefully they will post soon.

  54. Michele wrote: “And what more could Dr. Argilla say about the situation? We’ve heard from the fishing industry through the Minister. And we’ve heard from Sirtrack that canvassed all of their scientists and researchers about the longevity of the tracker on juvenile penguins. I think everyone has done as much as they could possibly do.”

    True enough, Michele…but that’s not the point. Dr. Argilla wrote one very brief paragraph about the loss of contact with HF on the zoo nest blog, and nothing more. Considering that she was the go-to person who had the most intimate contact with the penguin, and who was responsible for his release…one would naturally expect from her a more thorough and detailed explanation then what was offered.

  55. I saw the video as well. And even though it was couched in humor, the answers from the Minister appeared to be honest and straightforward. I am impressed that they took the time to evaluate the location of all of the fishing trawlers at the time of HFs transponder failure. I believe that NZer’s are very sensitive to the global interest in HF’s fate.

    And what more could Dr. Argilla say about the situation? We’ve heard from the fishing industry through the Minister. And we’ve heard from Sirtrack that canvassed all of their scientists and researchers about the longevity of the tracker on juvenile penguins. I think everyone has done as much as they could possibly do.

  56. Hi Teresa… thanks for the link. And here we have yet another example of an idiot in a position of authority!

    I am very disappointed that Dr Argilla has not commented further on the subject of HF’s release. So many questions left unanswered, and then this inexplicable silence from the one person who had the most intimate connection to HF. Perhaps she was advised by the zoo to shut the story down. It doesn’t seem right, however.

    ‘Not knowing’ HF”s fate is unsettling, but there is no other option than to learn to live with that…for now. We need not assume the worst just because we don’t know…In the meantime, we must support the efforts of those who are trying to restore health to the planet, with our votes and our dollars. In the states, I support the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council…a vital organization that is advocating for environmental sustainability on all fronts, one lawsuit at a time) and there are many other groups all over the world battling on the front lines, too.

    Keep the faith, friends…

  57. Awesome link, Chenoa, thank you so much! I’m actually amazed (and happy, of course) that the press is still reporting on Happy Feet. It makes me think that people are still very interested and following the story.

    I agree about Dr. Argilla. Now that she’s returned to land and settling back into her work, I hope that she will continue to post comments. As I mentioned before, I think the Zoo is the one at this point that would hear any updates on HF.

    Let’s keep waiting and passing along updates. Thanks again, friends!

  58. Thanks for the link Chenoa! It would be good to hear something a little more from Dr Argilla!

  59. Hi folks – Good questions. Will touch base on Sat. Hope Te papa’s keeps this open for awhile…. Cheers to our dear little penguin Happy Feet with love from Canada.

  60. Thanks Chenoa, well said. And yes, I believe that you are correct, it could be a long wait re Happy Feet’s arrival, and he would have to arrive at a monitored colony.

    It would bring me immeasurable joy to reunite with my fellow Happy Feet fans here to celebrate news of HF’s arrival. Maybe this is a question for Te Papa’s site to answer, then – how long will this blog stay active? And if it does eventually close, will it reopen if there is news/updates?

  61. My understanding is this (correct me if I’m wrong) : If HF does survive, he will likely remain at sea until he is of age to mate. In that case, it could be a very long wait, maybe a year…and even then, he would have to show up at a monitored colony for his chip to be activated.

    It would be glorious if that were to happen…but in the meantime, I don’t expect much news regarding HF’s whereabouts. And I don’t know how long Te Papa will keep this blog open for comments.

    If and when HF reappears, no doubt, we will all come back to Te Papa’s site to share our joy. Until then, as long as this blog is active, I will still check in to see if there is anything new….so, if you feel inspired to write, there will be others happy to read and respond….

  62. Thanks for the update, Nancy, and I hope that Dr. Argilla will continue to post comments and insights re Happy Feet. After all, at this point, the microchip is under the Zoo’s control, isn’t it? So if and when it is triggered, the Zoo would be the first to know, I believe.

    Also, I continue to check this blog (and the other sites) on a daily basis. I feel that this is my only connection to Happy Feet and his updates. If anyone is still interested in communicating here, please state so. I want to make sure I don’t post to an “empty” blog!

    Cheers to Happy Feet!

  63. To anyone still reviewing this blog – From Dr Argilla’s latest post on the Wellington Zoo site, it seems they will be back home on the morning of Sunday Sept. 25.
    I wonder if the media will pick up on their arrival back to New Zealand, and if so, if Dr Argilla will offer any more insights than she was able to deliver while rolling around in the high seas.
    Cheers to Happy Stroppy Feet!

  64. Thanks for the link Teresa!!! Any links are appreciated!

  65. FYI, Dr. Argilla posted a comment on her blog, but no updates. She just sends her wishes to Happy Feet that he will one day arrive in Antarctica.

    As I mentioned above, it’s frustrating not having any clue when he should arrive and even if we will find out, depending on whether it is a monitored colony or not. :((

  66. Very beautifully put, Chenoa, thank you for your profound and insightful thoughts and words…

    It warms my heart to know that Happy Feet has devoted, passionate, and driven fans like you as well as many others on this site.

  67. Teresa….to recognize your life’s calling is akin to winning the lottery! How many people go through the motions, never connecting with what truly moves them, body and soul? Follow your calling, Teresa…full-time, part-time, volunteer…”Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth” –Rumi

    And take to heart the wisdom of Dr. Howard Thurman…

    “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”


  68. Yes, Nancy! let’s hope that soon we will be exchanging posts of cheer in honor of Happy Feet’s arrival! How exciting that would be!

    I still wish we had some clue as to how soon that could be. From some comments, it sounds like it could be any time, but then, according to the information that penguins live mostly at sea until they are ready to mate, who knows how long…

  69. We also think of Happy Feet and his remarkable journeys every day and worry about the little guy….
    You are a great group of people.
    Hopefully in the future we will have a reason to post cheers.
    Again, Cheers to Happy Stroppy Feet.

  70. Chenoa, it’s the same with me – I am not exaggerating when I say that I can’t kill an ant or even a spider. The other night, a moth was stuck in the house and looked like it was struggling – I gently grabbed it in a tissue, released it outside, and watched it flutter off. Friends and family also think I am nuts! I tell you, I am in the wrong profession and feel like I have a different calling. When I look at animals, I see a unique life and a divine gift. They are helpless and completely vulnerable. They need our help because our actions can make or break their world. Anyway, like you, Chenoa, I could go on and on…

    But Happy Feet is special, even though I didn’t have a chance to meet him. I believe he landed on those shores for a reason and was given a second chance at life for a reason and we benefit from that. He deserves the best and the most appropriate finale would be the knowledge that he has moved on and arrived at wherever he was headed (in my heart I know he will make it). Let’s all keep hoping and praying…

  71. me too, Teresa… I think about him everyday.

    I’m also grateful for all of you, compassionate friends, who care so much for this singular life…

    In our household, we go to great lengths to rescue almost anything that moves (friends and family think we’re nuts)…recognizing that, even in the tiniest insect, there is a life to be lived…a life that is as precious to them as ours is to us. If they are not a danger, then why not help them? I could go on and on….

    Anyway…thank you, friends…

  72. Hi Teresa 😉

    I can not forget the nice little guy too.
    Yesterday I saw a documentation about the Southern Ocean on TV and I thought to myself: this is terrible!
    Metres high/deep waves… storm… whirls… currents/drifts… iciness and other things. It´s impossible to swim almost overwater. Underwater in two or four hundred meters for example it is relatively quiet.
    I think, Happy Feet swims underwater for the most time because he can only survive, when he swims in a certain deep for 15 – 25 minutes… short he takes the air and again deep underwater… short take the air… plunge… and so on.
    This can be a reason, that the transmitter is still working… only the people can not see what happened.

    Only an idea…


  73. I just felt the need to post that I am thinking a lot about Happy Feet and hope, with each day that passes, that his microchip will sound off and alert us that he has arrived. I feel a lot better after reading all these posts and doing research and hearing from the experts, but the little guy is still on my mind and I would really like to hear soon that he has reached his destination….just some thoughts!

  74. When I did some research on penguins and satellite transmitters on the internet, I found the same results for Magellanic penguins. They often succeed in removing the transmitters. I didn’t post my findings on this site, because I was still looking for some information on emperor penguins.
    So this is really great information, thank you Chenoa!
    I agree it would have been so much better if the researchers had made this clear …..

  75. It’s starting to sound more and more true that the company didn’t want to discuss fallibility rates so as not to diminish public confidence in their product and corporation. But as with anything, I think that public confidence is strengthened when the responsible parties are honest and upfront from the start. It seems to me that this information is being provided only now that Dr. Argilla has posted her honest feedback and input.

    I continue to check all the websites very regularly, but in case I miss something, I hope that everyone will stay involved and share whatever you learn or find out. It was because of this blog that I first learned of Dr. Argilla’s 9/16/11 post!

    Echoing Nancy, Cheers to Happy Feet!!

  76. Touche Chenoa – I think we all wish this information regarding the fallibility of these devices had been made clear from the beginning. That is actually quite a high ‘failure’ rate, and this knowledge would have saved a lot of emotional turmoil. Expectations would most certainly not have been so high, and the loss of the signal not quite so traumatic.
    Although genuine concerns remain about timing and location of drop-off, this new revelation from the researcher is much appreciated by many I’m sure. Pass on our thanks.
    Have a great day and as always:
    Cheers to Happy Stroppy Feet!

  77. Teresa, Nancy…the info (#271) was from a research biologist tracking juvenile Emporer Penguins in Antarctica…He’s not associated with Sirtrack, but has years of experience with transmitters, including Sirtrack, in the field.

  78. Hey, Nancy….you’re absolutely right about animals’ intolerance to foreign objects attached to their bodies. They won’t put up with it for long…wild creatures even less so.

    Sirtrack and Wellington Zoo should have made it perfectly clear from the get-go: there would be NO GUARANTEES tracking HF anywhere, much less all the way to Antarctica….that transmitters often encounter technical problems in the field, due to these specific causes, etc., etc.

    So, in addition to the lingering unease regarding the location and timing of HF’s release (ill-conceived, as many supporters staunchly believe)…there was, and remains a lack of communication with the public about the performance and reliability of the transmitters.

    Surely, the public would have had fewer expectations had they been better informed, or educated…and a good deal of misunderstanding and heartache might have been avoided.

    kind regards,


  79. Was something wrong with this blog for a while? It sounds like people’s comments weren’t being posted.

    Chenoa – great post (#272); and yes, as Nancy asked, who was that response from? It wasn’t Sirtrack, was it?

    Very helpful and informative and consistent with Dr. Argilla’s post!! And the thing is, we are not guessing as much with Happy Feet. We know, from Dr. Argilla, that he was unhappy about the transmitter and was attempting to remove it right before his release. Maybe it’s even possible that it was slowing him down a bit. Regardless, he had had it with the device, no doubt.

    I really do hope, though, that we hear from him soon. I wonder how many “monitored colonies” there are. I still don’t fully understand how they work.

  80. Chenoa – just read your post #271 – anyone who knows critters if something on their body is bothering them, they will stop at nothing in order to remove the offending source of irritation/annoyance!!! Animals simply HATE anything foreign or weird on their bodies – why shouldn’t they?
    Your post regarding the study with juvenile emperor’s certainly lends credence to transmitter failure when taken in conjunction with Dr Argillas’ note regarding Happy Feet’s preening the area where the foreign object was attached!!!
    Thanks for your post and thanks to the scientist who provided this info (where did you find this by the way?)
    Have a good day,
    Cheers to Happy Stroppy Feet!

  81. Where is my comment…? Lost.


  82. This afternoon, I received a response to my email regarding the efficacy of the glue, as well as transmitter failure. I will paraphrase:

    ***In the field, there is generally no problem with the glue. This glue has been used successfully throughout the world by seabird biologists to attach emitters onto seabirds and penguins.

    There are, however, common technical problems with the transmitters due to: damaged antennas (broken or chewed), chewed enclosure=electronic components in contact with seawater, or the whole unit might be lost…pulled off by the animal.

    In a (recent) study with juvenile Emperor penguins, one-fifth of the transmitters became faulty within a few days (position reception was erratic) indicating antenna problems (antenna chewed by the penguin?)…within a few weeks most of these faulty transmitters became silent, however, the few positions received indicated that the birds were fine and healthy, behaving like the other juvenile penguins in the study. The other transmitters worked well for a period of 3-4 months…***

    Thank you to the research scientist who provided this information, which certainly adds weight to the possibility of transmitter failure or loss. More food for thought…

  83. Roxana…for some reason, your comment #255 did not post until today. Having now read it, I want to say that I’m in your corner… in total agreement with your every point on this issue, including your impression that the brevity of Dr. Argilla’s statement belied the nature of her involvement with Happy Feet…it did seem strangely detached, especially given the outpouring of concern from across the globe.

    And Teresa, thank you for your well-wishes. I will write again if I get an answer to my inquiries (I’ve sent multiple emails, yet no response). Until then, my warmest regards…

  84. Chenoa, you said it well. I agree with you 100% re accountability. We are the caretakers for this planet’s animals and not their owners. I personally have ignored the posts of those who reprimanded us for asking questions and wanting those responsible to be held accountable, in the sense that you explained. I believe strongly that it is our persistence that has gotten us some answers. And yes, Chenoa, it is still speculation, but it is far more than we had before the the doctor posted her comments. And I believe there is more to come!

    Also, nicely written: “to all who have contributed towards the well-being of one small precious life force on our beautiful planet” – that he is! I hope to continue to read your comments. If not, best to you, Chenoa, and continue to speak/defend on behalf of those who cannot do so for themselves.

  85. Until HF’s implanted microchip is activated at a monitored colony, no one, including Dr. Argilla, will be able to speak with any certainty regarding the fate of the beloved penguin. At this point, it is all speculation, buoyed by probability and hope.

    I will say this: what has most surprised me since HF ‘dropped off the radar’, was not how slow the responsible parties were to respond to the public interest…sadly, that was to be expected….but the swiftness with which (many) contributors to this blog were so anxious to prematurely ‘wrap it up’, without meaningful explanation as to what happened. That was a revelation…

    ‘Let’s congratulate the experts, be positive, and move on’ was the prevailing mantra, with the exception of a few inquisitive minds not quite satisfied with the latest press release. The intolerance displayed towards those who required a more thorough understanding was, quite frankly, disturbing. Is it not our duty, as citizens of the world, to inquire, to challenge, to question authority in all things?

    The moment that animal was found wandering along Peka Peka beach and subsequently rescued, an obligation was created…. I mean ‘obligation’ in the positive sense, as in ‘stewardship’, which involves the public trust, and also implies ‘accountability’. And when accountability is lacking, it’s our job to ask for it, demand it…”Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul” wrote Edward Abbey, an American naturalist. I believe that…

    Thanks to Te Papa’s blog for allowing everyone to have a voice…and thanks to all who have contributed towards the well-being of one small precious life force on our beautiful planet… Joy be with you, and may we meet again.

  86. No problem, Nancy, I have the same trouble with computers!
    And yes, well said, Gabriele! I hope that Dr. Argilla will continue to share her thoughts with us. And it does make total sense, the concept of preening and Happy Fee wanting that device removed from his back. Knowing what we know now about how he tried to get it off himself right before he was released, I, too, am surprised that it lasted as long as it did on him!

    However, as delighted as I am by the uplifting news and posts from Dr. Argilla, I still hope fervently that Happy Feet’s microchip will kick in and send us an alert that he has arrived, when he arrives! The whole world is cheering him on!

  87. Good words Gabriele1949!!!
    Teresa glad you found the link (computers and I are like oil and water)
    Have a great day everyone,
    My mantra again – Cheers to Happy Stroppy Feet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  88. Dr. Argilla has been close to Happy Feet all the time. She saved him, She took care of him. And certainly a sort of communication has been established between the two. She has been with him up to the moment he was released.
    She is the best placed person to speak about him , his behaviour , his chances to survive and go back home.
    Certainly she is emotional as every other person but in the HF “discussion” she is certainly the one who can give the most reasonsable opinion.
    She has nothing to hide. She has no devices whose technology can fail.
    I completely trust her when she says that HF was in good shape and possibly did not like that strange thing attached on his back…
    She says HF is ok and swimming home. I trust her and bellieve it is true.
    And I do not say that to give reconfort to myself.I say this because it is the most logic situation and this is fine for me.
    Certaily I would have preferred to see the blick of the tracking device coming from the Antartica coast. Well Nature and Happy Feet have decided differently.
    Who knows. maybe HF will be discovered among other thousands penguins one day and will send a photo of him and his partners…
    Never forget: Love, and Hope should never die.
    Just spend every day a few seconds thinking of him.

  89. @ all:
    Thank´s for information and the links to the websites. Special to the statement of Dr. Lisa Argilla. She was one of his reference persons and knows him.
    I´ve tears in my eyes too… I´m so happy and I think this all is a very good sign.
    In my heart I was sure Happy Feet is fine and he´s swimming home to Antarctica, but it´s better to read about it…
    Perhaps he will visit Kiwiland together with his children again in some years.


  90. Teresa – on the Sirtrack main page click the top tab ‘News’ and the first item is a link to a NZ newspaper with the short article by this professor.
    Also their twitter site has links to that particular article…

  91. Nancy, thanks for the information! But I had trouble finding that link and post. I went to Sirtrack news but didn’t see it. I’m probably doing something wrong, but could you kindly re-direct me? 🙂

  92. I think Sirtrack has inadvertently provoked another endless round of pure speculation!!
    I prefer to focus on what people like Dr Argilla are saying.
    Another post by another penguin expert is on the Sirtrack site under ‘news’ the link to a professor who simply believes as well the tracker fell off!!!
    Have a good day everyone and perhaps someone from Sirtrack will clarify their statement as it is totally ambiguous and completely open to unending interpretation.
    Cheers to Happy ‘Stroppy’ Feet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  93. I’m not exactly sure what Sirtrack meant, but they also said that Happy Feet should have met up with a monitored colony by now. He would have to be on land to do that, right? So I don’t know if they could have meant that he was half way to finding other juvenile penguins in the ocean.

    I will follow up with a clarification email to them and see if they respond. I never heard back from Wellington Zoo, but then Dr. Argilla posted her comments – that’s even better!

  94. I think Sirtrack has inadvertently provoked another endless round of pure speculation.
    I prefer to focus on what people like Dr Argilla are saying.
    Another post by a penguin expert is on the Sirtrack site under ‘news’ Dr. Cockrem also simply believes the tracker fell off!!!
    Have a good day everyone, and perhaps someone from Sirtrack will clarify that statement as it is totally ambiguous.
    Cheers to Happy ‘Stroppy’ Feet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  95. I suspect they meant he was roughly half way between New Zealand and where you’d expect to find other juvenile penguins in the ocean, north of the Antarctic land mass.

  96. I read what Sirtrack was saying:
    “Happy Feet was roughly half way home…..”
    Is it true? Are they serious?

  97. Dr. Lisa and ship did go all the way to Campbell Island after all, and could have taken HF closer. I am gobsmacked actually!

    The last image of HappyFeet on that ship will not be forgotten worldwide. It evokes a memory of aloneness and uncertainty, demanding his success, or that he will die if he fails.
    He is a bird and he needed a colony or group swimming at sea, for communicating danger, direction and companionship. “He’ll be calling but no one will hear”, obviously penguins call to their own kind for a good reason – that they need each other! Penguins are just marginally above the bottom of the food chain it is a dangerous environment to be “alone” in.

    Fairy penguins have swam off-direction here often, and become lost while “alone”, one was found sitting on St. Kilda Beach Melbourne, and another arrived walking around on Williamstown Beach that I saw myself, they are not indestructible ocean going Tankers neither are they ‘all’ perfect at direction. Birds have stress problems even if their physical appearance and behavior seem ok, they can die very quickly, and should not be placed in a situation where they have to outrun predators. It’s too full-on! Anyone who has had even keyhole surgery and is discharged same day, knows that normal stamina does not return for 6 months for humans, even though one is deemed fit, and HF underwent several surgical procedures.

    The last day of the chart, HF’s fast northerly pattern and back again and circling – what if he ‘was’ being chased and hunted and then attacked, and the tracker stopped transmitting due to that. At least it is compassionate to see that side of things for his sake, not to dismiss it for our sensibilities. “Letting-him-go” only means – “rationalize and forget”, still not good enough! Always hoping that this never ever happens to HF, but he did not make that kind of circle anywhere on the chart until that last day, and ‘wham’ no signal. Terrible for any creature to go through being hunted, it’s another dimension of a death that should not have even figured in HF’s chances for a very long time, at least until he was established in a colony again and back to his own ways.

    What is that ship Tangaroa the great war god doing right now? It’s gone collecting samples visiting Campbell Island, sightseeing, and there was no chance of it even bending the rules? so to release HF in an area where there are other penguins much further South just outside the Treaty area or wait for the other ship. They would have been applauded if they had made that further journey!!

    HF was released into a long sea corridor frequented by predators, the chart was on Melbourne tv during the discussion of his release, and HF’s journey is along that corridor, which is the “most likely place” for predators to appear.

    Dr. Lisa’a blog today appears as a detached type of writing regarding the penguin among her other interests and experiences of the trip onto Campbell Island. Guess I was hoping she may have even mentioned keeping an eye out for HF there in case he made it! A repeat of “the tracker fell off” story that’s been going all week, and no evidence for HF’s survival from any of the experts to follow up, only conjecture. Today the ‘Miracle’ story in the NZ Herald was a let down, that HF could be (possibly) alive and half way home! He was traveling East when his signal disappeared, how was he half way home? And that “he should have found a colony by now” is more speculation, he would be lucky to have truly met up with other penguins at sea let alone be half way home.

    Visibly on that huge, huge, terribly huge chart he had only gone such a tiny part of the distance when he disappeared. Still regret HF was dropped of the way he was, and I always will and if he makes it then all credit to him!

    Keeping a look out for you HappyHappilyFeet in coming years…go ‘baby’penguin! (endearment).

    If HappyFeet is blythly swimming, feeding, and ‘going home’ in the right direction like Lassie….Prove It!

    Sorry but…”Probably alive” is no ‘Miracle’, only speculation!

    “Happy Feet, missing presumed eaten after being released into the ocean this month, scientists said.”

    “It’s A Miracle Happy Feet (Probably) Alive” – NZ Herald latest news
    There is no new information in this article …have read these explanations previously…

  98. i think they meant that he should have met up with others in the sea – but unfortunately we wont know if it is a monitored colony until they are on land – perhaps when they moult in january or even the following summer when he may start breeding

  99. From Sirtracks email to Teresa: “Happy Feet was roughly half way home when we lost contact”…

    What??? Halfway home from where? Campbell Island is 700 km south of NZ. Happy Feet’s last contact was approx 75 km southeast from the nearby drop off point.

    The Antarctic/Ross Sea/Mcmurdo area is approx 3864 km from NZ. I’m sorry, Sirtrack, but how does that does equate to ‘halfway home’? Can anyone enlighten me?

  100. Hello Nancy, Emma, Chenoa, Kath, everyone!!! I have tears in my eyes!!! I am SO happy to hear from Dr. Argilla!!!! That is so interesting about preening! And it makes total sense that Happy Feet, with his feisty personality, would fight hard to remove the device from his feathers! I look forward to reading the links that everyone has provided, thanks Emma and Kath! You are so right, Nancy, what a relief to read some assuring and encouraging words from the pro, and the one closest to HF at that!

    Also, I have a bit of an update – Sirtrack answered my email tonight:
    ” We would not have data on transmitter detachment as we simply supply the transmitters to researchers who are responsible for fitting them. It would not be a large number though as it is in the best interest of the researcher to employ experienced people to deploy the devices or they return no data for their project. The life of the transmitter was approx 4 months. It can only transmit when the animal surfaces, and if detached is on the ocean floor somewhere. It was Wellington Zoo who fitted a transponder chip and they have a number of monitored colonies. This is not monitored by Sirtrack. Happy Feet was roughly half way home when we lost contact. He should have met up with another colony by now, but we won’t know unless it is a monitored colony. We would all like him to visit a monitored colony so we would all know he is home and is well.”

    I was very surprised and excited to learn that HF could be at a colony by now or soon! So the microchip could kick into gear any time, really, if and when HF reaches a monitored colony! Let’s keep praying and hoping for HF and keep the updates coming!

  101. your welcome, Nancy…

  102. Teresa, Emma, Gabriele1949, Annie, Liz etc: What a RELIEF to read what Dr Argilla is thinking!!!!!
    What she, who knew Happy Feet better than anyone says, (including his increasing ‘stroppiness) makes a lot more sense than most of what has been posted here and elsewhere!!!!!
    (and thanks for checking the zoo site – had pretty well given up on that one).
    Again gotta run…….gotta believe he’s far tougher than we could ever be.
    Again Cheers Happy Feet!!!

  103. Water Preening
    Penguins have more feathers per square inch then any bird on earth. It takes many, many hours of work to keep the feathers in shape so they clean up on land and in the water.

  104. ….so, based upon Dr. Lisa’s latest entry, may we assume, then, that penguins ‘preen’ not only on land, but in the water, too?

  105. Chenoa Sirtrak have told us that they think the most likely the tracker dropped off, this has been confirmed by dr argilla and other experts. Sirtrak has done a good job of giving us information – they even had one of their software engineers go in over the weekend to check if there had been any sigals at all.
    As I said before I doubt that any of us has the expertise to interpret complex failure data that would depend on water depth and time spent there, type of feathers, bird speed, ocean temperature, wave speed and height etc. Also the new factor introduced by dr argilla – that have they previously put a tracker on a penguin who then had several days to attack it before being released?Apenguin who from all accounts was bored adn frustrated at not being able to get into the sea it could see.

    In my view its time ot thank sirtrak for their contribution to our knowledge about happy feet’s release

  106. Teresa – This is from one of Dr Miskelly’s previous blogs: “Similar (and in some cases, identical) devices have been used previously to track adult and juvenile emperor penguins from the Antarctic continent. As reported in previous blogs, this has shown that young emperor penguins swim into the Southern Ocean more than 1000 km north of the pack-ice that surrounds Antarctica. The release of the Peka Peka penguin will be the first time that a satellite transmitter has been attached to an emperor penguin released at sea.”

    “It will not detect a signal when the penguin is foraging (deep diving), and is unlikely to do so when the penguin is swimming rapidly, and surfacing briefly for quick breaths. There is no guarantee that enough of the signals will get picked up on every pass of the satellite, and so there are likely to be days when no locations are detected.”

    Here’s the link:

    Hope that helps you.

  107. Annie wrote: It is unlikely that sirtrack will release commercially confidential information about fail rates – and any how they dont have the rates for happy feets particualr situation. They have told us the transimitter can prematurely detach , and that this is the most likely explanation. Thye are the experts and we have to rely on them. I dobut that we have the expertise to properly evaluate their fail rate data.

    True enough, Annie, but as many have expressed on this blog. Sirtrack still has a responsibility to the public. They were not operating in a vacuum. In fact, Sirtack announced their involvement with pride, thrilled as they must have been for the opportunity to participate, and benefit from worldwide exposure. Meanwhile, the public at large became deeply invested in the outcome of HF’s well- being (and I don’t mean ‘financially’)…an investment that was encouraged by all of the entities involved every step of the way.

    It would not be so difficult for Sirtrack, among others, to publish a press release interpreting their technical data for the benefit of the public. It would be the responsible and compassionate thing to do. Frankly, I no longer have faith in ‘experts’, in general, and would prefer not to rely upon them…but sometimes there are no other options.

    I am still awaiting response to my email requesting technical information. So far…nothing.

  108. For Teresa and those who are looking for statistics on success and failure of transmitters. Im guessing only Sirtrack can answer that question. There is information on the net about failure rates and reasons for failure on the Argos satellites, though they seem to be different trackers used for many different Marine Animals. Google “Why does Argos Satellite stop working”

    There is some information about King penguins (the closest in size and look to an Emperor) being tracked on long distance (1800kms)…also photo of transmitter on back of penguin which look similar to the one fitted on “Happy Feet”. Google falklands king penguins – life at the extreme.

    What I see though is this. Even when you have a success or failure rate, it does not give you an answer only a possibility. Ive seen people die suddenly who might have been said to have a 90% chance of living and people live who were said to only have a 20% chance of living. Percentages can only ever be a guide and that guide in any given case may be way off. A percentage rate will not tell us whether that particular transmitter failed. However its important to do that which you need to do to get the answers for you.

    “Happy Feet” is one of two known penguins to swim to the shores of nz..(maybe there were others unseen).already that makes him…what word shall i use…unique? He is beyond percentages, so if hes wearing a transmitter that has never failed in the past or one that has a 20%, 50% failing what will that prove? If its comfort you are looking for then maybe the awareness that Happy Feet has already showed you that by being outside of guesses, estimates, percentages he lives the life that he lives.

    I wont be surprised at all if in the future he shows up at a monitored colony and his microchip is triggered. I wont be devasted either if we never hear that, for the only thing that will mean is that he didnt arrive at a monitored colony (where the machinery was working)

    The last picture I saw of him was when he bobbed up after entering the water and dove under and swam off (some people seem to have missed that). The “experts” said the five days of tracking showed he was swimming in a manner expected of a feeding penguin. He is now in the unknown and the unknown perhaps is a perfect place to be. 🙂

  109. Annie, good points, but do we at least know (or is it available to us to know) if this device was ever used before on an Emperor penguin? I don’t know if that has already been reported somewhere. For some reason, I feel like I read something about that somewhere, but if so, I can’t recall where.

  110. While I agree with the spirit of your post, Seacat, I don’t really agree with your desert analogy. I think the wealth of knowledge and information available to us (and as told by the experts) on Emperor penguins is that Happt Feet was dropped off in waters that he would be familiar with and where other adolescent penguins travel. He had already traveled half way to his destination when we lost signals. And also, he made it to NZ in the first place; so we cannot say that he was just thrown into unknown waters. Also, as the information indicated, he was following a swimming pattern typical of Emperor penguins fishing. And finally, we cannot forget that these are creatures of instinct – they know what to do to survive.

  111. just as an example of how transimitting devices can fail – the company that makes cochlear ear implants that allow deaf people to hear has recently announced that they are recalling one of their models because of unacceptably high fail rates for the wearers – things go wrong even in the best tested systems

    It is unlikely that sirtrack will release commercially confidential information about fail rates – and any how they dont have the rates for happy feets particualr situation. They have told us the transimitter can prematurely detach , and that this is the most likely explanation. Thye are the experts and we have to rely on them. I dobut that we have the expertise to properly evaluate their fail rate data.
    As I said before its about us living without 100% certainty which is just how this situation is

  112. Hello Gabriele1949 – i totally agree with you
    The twitter comments are really useless:
    I think HF has lost his transmitter and is doing his way.
    But anyway the complete project was very stupid.
    Why could they not have kept him a little bit longer and
    drop closer to home. It is the same if somebody put you in
    the dessert.
    But maybe one day we will know what happend.

  113. Here’s something I just read and thought about: Emperor penguins can dive very deep and they can hold their breaths from 20-30 min at a time. Why isn’t it possible that HF is feeding below the surface and, since the transmitter can only send signals twice a day (I think that’s what I read), he is under water feeding when the satellite passes? I mean if the signals have to match up with the passing satellites and we can only get readings once or twice a day, and if HF is in an ample feeding area, why isn’t it possible that he’s just spending a lot of time beneath the surface fishing/feeding?

  114. Nicely and appropriately put, Gabriele. And I am in total agreement. I think there is a better way to handle this. However, I am at least relieved that Sitrack has not taken Happy Feet’s information off its site. It looked like they made a few minor changes this morning, but left HF’s info – that’s more than can be said for the Zoo’s website.

  115. Do not even look to the comments on the Sirtrack page blog.
    They are genuinly in majority stupid.
    Honestly I have decided not to look anymore on the Sirtrack page.
    They have not been able to put there any clear and final statement on what they think happened. They just answer some emails….
    Still the original presentation and the map with the old tracking.
    Are they convinced that one of these days , out of the blue, HF will start beeping again?
    We would like but it is not going to happen. In their Facebook page there plenty of talking about other projects.
    I not blaming them for their job. I am convinced they did their best , but I simply do not understand their attitude.
    But also other “Experts” are silent….
    I can live without their statement. I have my own opinion , already expressed here, and I think that HF is dodging the waves of the Ocean and living a real penguin life. He belongs to the vwild.
    But I really think that some clear words from the people who managed the HF affair is necessary and due to all the supporters around the world ( I am in Europe..) but mainly to Happy Feet himself.
    His trip into our world was a gift for all of us.
    Saying him ” Thanks, Safe journey home. Have a great life.” must be done in style.

  116. Teresa -Hopefully we will all receive some answers to many of these questions in the future……..

  117. Thank you, Nancy, for your kind words and your uplifting blogs as well. Your devotion to HF is clear and has been a source of inspiration to me as well. I hesitated to join this blog at the outset. If anyone has checked out the tweets from the Sirtrack website, the comments are infantile and sometimes even distasteful. I wondered, where can I go to vent out my frustrations, to find people who don’t think I am crazy for feeling the way I do about this glorious creature whom I have only been able to admire from afar? Then I came here and saw the posts of many caring and genuine people, as you indicated, Nancy. I feel among my peers! I am crazy for animals and feel that I have missed my calling. But HF’s story warms my heart and lets me love and care, even from afar.

    Just to comment, though, on your post, Nancy, about the transmitter faliling in the salty wild waters of the Southern Ocean. That’s a good point. And I guess that goes back to Chenoa’s questions earlier-isn’t there anywhere we can look for more information on the device’s use and rate of success (or failure) in the same types of waters? And do we know if it has even been used on an Emperor penguin before? if someone already mentioned this an earlier post, my apologies, and please feel free to repeat. But if this experiment has not been done before on an Emperor penguin, or only once or twice, I think that says a lot….

  118. Teresa – No one could have said these thoughts better than your blog!! !!

    (Roxana – It is horrible I think we all agree that initially he was left unaided for so long, no question and we should never forget that, but – ultimately he was helped because of the insistence and assistance of good people!!!!)

    Let’s focus instead on all that has happened since then…………………….
    Simply because an electrical device has failed in a salty, cold and wild watery environment does not make me automatically assume the worst outcome. On the contrary I am almost surprised it lasted as long as it did!!!!!

    And I’m almost certain many of us will keep checking these posts…………
    Again, well said Teresa and cheers again to Happy Feet!

  119. I agree, Roxana. No one should be immune from having to render an account, especially here – the animals do not belong to us to do whatever we want with them. I am not referring to HF’s caretakers per se. I am just saying that animals are a gift and those working with them have an obligation to treat them with respect and dignity. How do we know if this is being done, generally speaking, unless those “in charge” are “accountable?”

  120. Entitlement to ‘accountability’ is an appropriate normal procedure. Regarding the way HF was initially left unaided on Peka Peka Beach for days suffering. His being a wild animal in no way changes his status as to the requirement of “accountability” of his Carer’s regarding his release and subsequent disappearance.

  121. Yes Gabriele – I think that’s what I have been trying to say. The public has been invested emotionally and to help with closure, it would just be helpful if the “experts” would come forward and offer some reassuring parting words. We don’t want to be brushed off. And it’s not that we are “demanding accountability,” as someone suggested. It’s that they promised follow-ups and we haven’t received anything. If this is the end of the line, then just say so and tell us why. Like Gabriele said, they promised an update in 48 hours and we never received anything. Just give the public the closure they need.

    In the meantime, I want to thank the positive voices on this blog (Nancy, Chenoa, Emma, etc.). This blog has helped me achieve some level of peace that I haven’t gotten anywhere else or from anyone else. In the end, I think that’s what we all wanted. And think about it – what are we blogging about? What are we concerned about? A beautiful member of nature and wildlife! I think we should be commended for our devotion to HF! We could be blogging about other things, but we are all clearly invested in HF’s prosperity and survival. Kudos to everyone for the love and compassion in your hearts
    for this little creature!

    After reading and pondering everyone’s posts (and doing some outside research, thanks Emma!), I am genuinely convinced that HF is alive and well. I know the transmitter fell off. Yes, it was an experiment, and it didn’t succeed perfectly. But it told us that HF is moving along, progressing, and doing what he should be. They are intelligent creatures with strong survival skills. They are at the top of the food chain, and HF was not released in a dangerous area for predators. And they are fast little swimmers, these Emperor penguins! I never knew that they spent so much of their lives at sea – I was misinformed and believed that they spent all their lives in Antarctica – to the contrary! So, if they spend most of their lives at sea, and HF was not an infant, why would we assume that he can’t handle 5 days in the water! Remember, he made it to NZ in the first place! And he was probably healthier than ever when he returned to the sea. I am glad that HF will not have any recollection of us or any emotional attachments. I want to see him plug along to his new life, and leave the “missing” to us, which we will surely do.

    I will, however, still be reading posts and hoping to hear something from his keepers. 🙂

  122. Liz- Don’t let a few negative people get you down. I think the vast majority of posts are by very thoughtful and supportive people.
    The few that are so obviously obnoxious we can all dismiss.
    I don’t think the people who do so much good for animals are thin-skinned enough to be bothered by such silliness.
    A debate is good – and hopefully we will indeed be able to view the rehabilitation of other animals 24/7 for indeed it is an educating experience that can only help to increase the awareness of the needs of creatures other than humans. And by that increase compassion for and motivation to protect other species.
    Thanks for the good people who dedicate their lives to precisely this.
    And long live Happy Feet and his kind!!!!!!!

  123. Chenoa thank you for your comment, much appreciated. Yes, sending HF love light, beautiful thoughts of him swimming imagining him arriving on the shore of a southern island colony, seeing his beautiful world through his eyes…and our connection with all sentient beings. I’d hug him if I could!

  124. I already expressed my opinion and feelings about Happy Feet.
    I do not want to repet myself.
    I honestly cannot blame anybody for what it has been done.
    The only comment I want to post is about my surprise in seeing that none of the so called “experts” who worked so hard is making an official statement on their sites about the loss of tracking and the reasons why.
    They seem very silent. There is nothing wrong if the device was lost. It happened alrerady. Just publicly admit that and wish good luck to HF.
    “We do not know” . “May be the satellite”. “In 48 hours we will know more”.
    Stop that. Explain clearly what could be the reason.
    Then debates, comments, etc will stop and we will all simply support HF with our wishes and love.
    Is it so difficult?

  125. I agree with Liz. The amount of anger we’ve seen from some of these posters, along with their inflated sense of self importance and entitlement demanding ‘accountability’ has been somewhat baffling to say the least.

    People would be forgiven for thinking they were discussing their faithful family dog, entrusted to a dog walker who then lost the dog in a park, rather than a wild animal belonging to no one who was returned to the wild.

  126. I also saw HF at the zoo which was an amazing experience and one I will never forget. I too have learnt a lot through HF being here. All the best HF and I hope one day you will be tracked in one of the penguin colonies.

  127. I feel privileged to have seen him and what I have learn’t about Emperor Penquins in the last few months has been a real eye opener. None of which I would have done if it wasn’t for him and my 4 year old grand-daughter who was also fascinated by him. I thank him for that and wish him well but it is time to let him go about his business and I am sure he is fine and doing what penquins do at this time of year. At least that is what I am going to believe anyway.

  128. Thanks Liz. My thoughts too!

  129. I live on the Coast where Happy Feet was found and am very annoyed at the way in which some people are berating Dr. Argilla and her staff and the long list of other people that helped save HF life. We were very privileged to get to see his recovery online and even his trip back to the ocean.
    O.K. the transmitter has stopped working for whatever reason but HF is where he should be, back at sea. What happens to him now is up to nature. We don’t need to follow his every wim anymore. If we are fortunate to find out some time in the future that he is alive and well then that’s a bonus. Time to let him go and get on with his life. Nobody owes you people an explanation and you should be just grateful for the time you were given to watch him recover. The way you are behaving will certainly mean that we will probably never get to experience another creatures recovery 24/7 in our homes by these wonderful people again. Why would they allow us to when they get treated like this. They did their very, very best and even spent a lot of time working out the best way of releasing him. Go get on with your lives now and hopefully as I said earlier we will hear one day he is on the ice cap looking for a mate.

  130. Yes Chenoa 🙂 Everyone is entitled to their opinions even if we do not agree with all of them.

  131. Julie wrote “…I have been reading so many posts lately that have been not nice but I still think the Zoo did a wonderful job and they did want the best outcome for him. I am sure he is fine.”

    What is it with the ‘cult of nice’ that some of you are so insistent upon in your posts???….

    This blog has generously offered many people the opportunity to express themselves freely regarding a highly-charged topic: the apparent loss of a beloved animal….There is plenty of room here for serious discussion and debate, which is not always pretty or consoling or comfortable, nor should it be. There is space here for praise as well as criticism and disagreement, anger and frustration . Meanwhile, I’ve not noticed that anyone has been ‘uncivil’….Challenging, perhaps, but not uncivil.

    So, folks, please get over your obsession with ‘niceness’. There now, I’ve asked nicely, haven’t I?.

  132. Penguins tracked from Falkland Islands to Antarctica. “This season, two of the eight satellite tracked king penguins have undertaken remarkable foraging trips over winter…..1800km (round trip) to the Antarctic and back! ” ( Though these are king penguins not emperor it does show at least the long distance that can be swum by penguins(similar to emperor) and that the transmitter would not inhibit the swim in anyway…in this case the satellite trackers stayed the distance.

  133. Thanks Annie for your post re “experiment”. It has helped. I may have been a bit hasty in writing my post without thinking clearly. I have been reading so many posts lately that have been not nice but I still think the Zoo did a wonderful job and they did want the best outcome for him.
    I am sure he is fine

  134. two things happened happy feet was released based on considerations for his welfare – as happens many times a day for animals treated by zoo vets.
    and usually that is the end of the story.

    in this case given the unsual event of an adolescent emperor penguin being in captivity they also decided to do a scientific experiment to see if they coudl learn more about emperor penguins.

    If they were just interested in sceince they could have put the transmitter under his skin and not worried about how it affected him
    instead they they did the best they could without affecting him – they glued it on
    Like all sceintific experiments when something new is tried – we cannot predict 100% what will happen IT IS AN EXPERIMENT (iphones and computers have gone through rounds and rounds of testing and learning what doesnt work before they are released to the general public
    In this case the experiment partly worked then failed – that is science
    indeed there is a saying about sceince experiments – murphy’s law what can go wrong will go wrong (referring ot eqiupment not happy feet’s wellbeing)- it is normal to have equipment glitches when they are used in slightly differnet ways.
    Was it a good idea to do the experiment ? yes i think it was – it didnt harm happy feet and may have provided useful information – and as i said in an earlier post did let us know that he looked fine in the water

    The difficulty is that it may not have been appreciated by some people that experimetns often fail – instead it has been interpreted catastrophically

    Finally perhaps us learning to live with uncertainty- we probably wont know exactly what happened to happy feet – that is for us to manage – it doesnt affect happy feet – and no it doesnt make sense to push the sceintists for answers where they arn’t any – ti was an experiment

  135. HF Admirer – had to post again simply to congratulate you on your ingenuity! (please refer to post 65 – another type of experiment).
    I’m in your camp as it SURELY makes sense and provides hope!!!!

  136. HF Admirer…the results of your backyard experiment have actually provided more practical information with regard to the efficacy of superglue vis a vis feathers than has been provided by Sirtrack. Thanks….

  137. Interesting article, Jaws, Thank you….We’re wondering about the failure rate of the transmitters themselves, as well as the efficacy of the superglue, when subjected to extreme conditions of the southern ocean. How common or rare is the failure rate….Can you shed some light upon these issues?

  138. Emma, Gabriele1948 Teresa and Kathy:Your blogs are great and it’s been great to hear your wonderful considerations.
    I don’t know how much longer I will be able to continue reading here due to work obligations, but it is as Kathy says so great to touch base with so many around the world that care for Happy Feet, his species, antartica and essentially all critters and environments.
    All of you keep up the great work!!!
    Keep supporting our scientists who devote their lives to learning, and helping those who cannot speak, or help themselves.
    Try to remember that they are people too who are not perfect and don’t always have all the answers. But they, and we in our own way, must keep trying.
    Happy Feet has certainly been an incredible ambassador, wherever he might now be!
    Yes – I sure hope that some day in the future we can all celebrate on this blog at a time when we least suspect the return of the little guy!!!!!!!
    Maybe when they’ve had more time to reflect and consider, his keepers will post another blog or two.
    Cheers to Happy Feet!!!!!!!!!

  139. I hope and believe that HF is alive. I tried an experiment by gluing using superglue an small piece of plastic with the same weight 90grms to a bunch of feathers attached to a box. Left it outside under rain and changes of temperatures. The plastic fell off after 4 and 1/2 days. I found it on the ground. So that gives me hope that the transmitter fell off HF as he was swimming in the cold waters, Lets not forget that when HF dives for food he increases his speed under water to catch his prey, The friction of the water at those speeds provide resistance to the transmitter and eventually it came off.
    I hope that I provide some hope to all of the people rooting for HF.

  140. It is common practice to superglue transmitters on birds..The guy who installed the transmitter knew exactly what he was doing and placed the device one hand length above HF tail and thus avoiding to interfere with the preen gland. This was the best and safest method to use on an emperor penguin..Scientific studies have shown that transmitters clipped into wings or feet cause to much drag to the bird. (

  141. Wellington zoo , Sirtrack and any other involved person would never act like this again. They did their best and now they was bombed with questions, they couldn’t answer. Happy Feet lost his tracker, for that i’m sure, and so there will be never any answers. All involved persons, especially Dr. Argilla, must be very sad and upset but they have to continue their work, they have to rescue, heal, watch and take care about other animals. That’s their job! What should they say? They told us, that there are no answers, no updates and maybe, there will be no answers or updates. I think, that they must be tired of all this questions, replies and comments. What should they do? They took care about HF, they spent weeks with make him healthy and fit….and i think now there’s mourning everywhere. But live is going on….and work is going on. If you asked the same questions every day, all other “zoo-residents” have to wait…and wait…and wait…!! They did their best, they did everything and if you read about penguins in books, wikipedia or whatever, it’s clear, that Happy Feet could make it. And instead of wishing them all the best and be thankfull for what they have done, you need answers they couldn’t give. i watched this page the whole time because it’s a nice feeling that there a so many people all over the world watching the little penguin, but now i’m off……it’s crazy!
    Happy Feet will make it, and he would be happy, if the involved Doctors, Scientists and any others could do their work! And i wrote it before: it’s not only about Hapyy Feet, it’s all about taking care of nature and wildlife. And Mr. Happy Feet is an ambassador, a landmark! He will recall us about beeing responsible with nature, antarctic and threatened animals. Keep Happy Feet in your hearts and let him be free and let Dr. Argilla and Sirtrack and…and…and doing their work!! It’s worth it!
    Maybe we all will meet again…on a page about Happy Feet’s return….and if not, best wishes to all of you! In the end it’s nice to “meet” you….it shows that there are people all over the world who have a heart and an attachement to animals! Thank you for that! Take care!
    Kathy, Germany

  142. Teresa, I think (and I could be wrong here!) there are a few colonies that are monitored in the sense that maybe once a year researchers visit and photograph the birds etc. Someone else may be able to shed some light on this.

    I know there is a French site that is checked in such a way, but I’m not sure if others are the same. This would have to be done during the Antarctic Summer, but I really don’t hold out too much hope that they will identify Happy Feet in this way. It’s a long shot.

  143. I think it is clear that HF lost his tracking device.
    It is more or less admitted by Sirtrack.
    I understand that after all what they did ( Sirtrack, Lisa Argilla, Dr. Miskelly) probably they are very disappointed but they should very simply publicly admit what the facts are.Nobody will blame them. We all know, despite the comments from negative people, that they did their best for HF.
    Communicating clearly with all the supporters of HF will release the pressure and will let everybody look to what happened in a positive manner.
    We are upset that we cannot track HF on our computer on his way back home. Well we have to accept that.
    Happy Feet is finding his way to Antartica to a genuine and happy penguin life.
    He made a visit into our lifes and left a message of love and hope.Never forget that and never forget Happy Feet.This should be our way to help him home.
    Now many more people know that there are HF and many other animals that simply ask to share the world with us in peace and harmony.
    There will be always a place in our hearts for You , Happy Feet.
    Go safely home into your own wild world.
    Thanks and Love.

  144. Emma wrote: “But, just because glue may have managed to adhere better to other animals or other penguins, doesn’t mean that it didn’t fail this time. Every situation is different. They probably can’t supply any statistics on the efficacy of such a method because when trackers cease to transmit information to them, they probably don’t know the true reason why.

    Great post Emma…Surely, Sirtrack must have done some controlled tests on the efficacy of the glue under similarly extreme conditions. The transmitters are very expensive, so I doubt that they would choose to use this method if they didn’t have a history of success with the glue. I wish that Sirtrack would be more forthcoming about these technical details, but It is unlikely that they will make this information public….so we are left to speculate.

  145. Teresa wrote “but how many people knew from Sirtrack’s website that HF was even fitted with a chip, for example? I didn’t learn that from Sirtrack, or Lisa Argilla.” Me neither. But you can read it in dr Miskelly’s blog nr 4, right here on this website. Good luck!

  146. For those of you that don’t agree with the dialogue under this blog, what are you doing here anyway? Why even bother posting at all?

  147. As always, great post, Emma. But here’s another question. What exactly do they mean that the chip will only work if Happy Feet shows up at a “monitored” colony? Monitored how? And does that mean that the chip will send out a signal when he gets there? How exactly does that chip work?

    These are the kinds of answers I am looking for, Miranda. I don’t expect Sirtrack to tell us where Happy Feet is, but how many people knew from Sirtrack’s website that HF was even fitted with a chip, for example? I didn’t learn that from Sirtrack, or Lisa Argilla.

  148. Well said Toni! I for one am sick of the bitterness directed towards the zoo and everyone involved with Happy Feet. They seem to think that they are the experts but they were not actually their on a daily basis to know what went on. It was not an “experiment” as I see repeated by certain people and he was not betrayed!

  149. Glad you had FUN learning all about emperor penguins, Toni….now please step aside and allow the rest of us try to find out what the h*ll happened!

  150. Toni said: “And as I said before, RUN COLIN, RUN!!!!!! GRAB LISA AND GO!!!!” 🙂 🙂 Ha ha, I see what yo mean.

    And Teresa: although I would like Sirtrack to come up with some answers as much as you do, I don’t think sending e-mails is a good idea …. I’m also pretty confident that they already receive at least hundreds of e-mails a day from people who ask the same questions over and over again. They’ll let us know if they have news.

  151. Teresa, Happy Feet could choose to head to a colony for the Antarctic winter (which starts March/April), however there is also a chance that he could remain at sea for a couple of years yet. It’s something that I don’t think even the people most qualified to draw a conclusion could tell you.

    Emperor Penguins are able to breed at around three years of age and usually commence breeding about one to three years later. Given that they don’t have a definitive age for him (it’s been mentioned he may be two years old), he has a good while before he thinks about heading to a nesting area to find a mate.

    The microchip will only come in handy if Happy Feet ends up at a monitored colony, but he may choose to head to another colony. So, the reality is that the microchip may never come into play at all.

    It’s really all a guessing game. From all the tracking and monitoring on other penguins they’ve managed to do so far, it’s accepted that juvenile Emperor Penguins spend their lives at sea until they are ready to breed. That’s why they’re called marine birds or ocean birds.

    Here’s a quote from a website for you: “Amazingly, emperors are the only birds in the world that can and usually do, spend their whole life without ever coming on land.”

    I tried to repair something recently with superglue and it didn’t take. My item wasn’t subjected to extremely cold, wet conditions either,so I wouldn’t have expected the tracker to hold for months. I don’t believe Sirtrack put a spin on any information they gave to the public. They’ve done the best they can with the information that they have. They would be frantically trying to get some information out of the tracker and I guess it’s hard if they can’t pick up a signal. They truly didn’t expect it to fall off so soon and I’m sure they are as disappointed as the rest of us. But, just because glue may have managed to adhere better to other animals or other penguins, doesn’t mean that it didn’t fail this time. Every situation is different. They probably can’t supply any statistics on the efficacy of such a method because when trackers cease to transmit information to them, they probably don’t know the true reason why. The only way to determine if it malfunctioned or fell off would be to follow the animals on their journeys….but that’s what the tracker is for.

    We all knew it was an extremely long shot that we’d be tracking Happy Feet for six months.

  152. For all those now stalking the doctors, the one thing you are accomplishing is that NO one will EVER make themselves targets by sharing their efforts to help wildlife. Fortunately, most people truly appreciate the work put in to save HF. We have learned so much about Emperor Penguins. We’ve had such fun watching his recovery, reading what Colin et al have written for us.
    Pouting, and stamping your feet for more time with the doctors is obscene. Stopping them from saving other animals because you need attention.

    Surely you can see this is now all about you and not HF.
    YOU need answers. YOU want a response. YOU think he was dropped off in the wrong place. Yada yada. I am honestly not trying to be mean but claiming that he will get exhausted and die?……news flash…… HE FLOATS!!
    Please, please put down the Cheetos, turn off the computer, and go outside. There is life aside from HF – who is laughing at us all. I wish I had a 95.1% chance of making it another 15 years.

    And as I said before, RUN COLIN, RUN!!!!!! GRAB LISA AND GO!!!!
    Your best just isn’t good enough. Oh and stop working on those hundreds of other seabirds that are in a life and death situation.

  153. I’m encouraged that there is a microchip in Happy Feet, as a back-up. Unfortunately, though, we have a bit of a wait until we hear anything back from that. I’m also still waiting on an answer with an estimation of when Happy Feet should reach a colony. That’s when the microchip is supposed to provide an update.

  154. In agree, Miranda. Also, FYI, I emailed Sirtrack about your question, Chenoa. But if I might suggest, I think we stand a better chance of getting some answers/statistics if others would also email Sirtrack with the same question/concern. If you have already done so, please disregard my suggestion!

  155. Chenoa: At the time they attached the transmitters to J.J, they must have thought they would hold. It was only until they fell off that they discovered the toggle hadn’t been deeply enough embedded into the blubber. And maybe they’ll discover that somehow the glue they used at HF isn’t strong enough to hold on some penguins, for whatever reason we still don’t know yet.

  156. I’m not suggesting that the superglue was impervious to failure…I’m only pointing out the inaccuracy of the statements made by Sirtrack…you know…in the name of damage control.

    We still haven’t heard of any statistics regarding the rate of transmitter failure. Still waiting on that one…

  157. @Teresa: and no one called it’s release “a cruel scientific experiment” 🙂

  158. Miranda…the article re: JJ the whale indicates that the tracking device had been attached via a ‘toggle attachment’, which they determined had not been deeply enough embedded into the whale’s blubber….

    HF’s transmitter was glued to his back feathers, designed to remain attached to the feathers ‘permanently’ with superglue. Sirtrack insists that the tracker was ‘intended to fall off after 3-4 months’, but that is pure spin. What they fail to mention is this: it is the old ‘moulted feathers’ that fall off…the transmitter, however, would still be glued to the old feathers, even as those feathers are no longer on the bird! Not a minor detail!

  159. Miranda, these articles are absolutely fascinating and very helpful! What a great story! I think it is very helpful to HF’s story that the trackers also fell off J.J. the whale after only a few days. Also, it sounds like J.J. may also have had other means to track her and they still lost connection with her. With HF, they only had the one tracker and it stayed with HF by a few days more than it did with J.J.! And even though they lost signals from J.J., no one certainly assumed that she had been “eaten”!!! Great article! Thanks for sharing!!

  160. About the tracker: I don’t know anything about statistics, but it happened before with J.J the gray baby whale. She got 2 satellite trackers, that were supposed tot stay on for 18 months. However, they fell off after 3 days.
    Read her story at

    It’s an interesting story.

  161. Emma’s links were very helpful, everybody. I found them encouraging.

  162. Yes, let´s wait and fight for answers… but never the responsible persons will say to the world: we have made a mistake. Never!

    Anyway I´m sure, Happy Feet is well and he is going home.
    Good luck and a lot of power, my dear friend Happy Feet… My hart goes out to you.


  163. Thanks for your persistence, Teresa…

  164. I have personally contacted the Zoo re Dr. Argilla and Sirtrack re our requests for more updates and also, some data concerning the rate that the transmitters fall off. We cannot give up if we want answers.

  165. Humanity is flying to the moon and other planets and is looking for aliens and is not incapable really help animals on our planet…??!
    What a shame!

    I hope, all the responsible persons are working on the absolute truth and will give information to the world.
    And I hope too, they are not in a shock because their “experiment” is out of order…
    Happy Feet and all his penguin-fellows and also all other animals could be never a means to an end.


    Sorry, it is difficult for me to write in English.

  166. Chez 1st paragraph of your post is utter nonsense – the 2nd is an interesting question.

  167. Chez – good question. Has anyone contacted/emailed Sirtrack directly about that?

  168. Some people do not like others challenge the “experts/authorities”… Then there are some “experts/authorities” who don’t like to be challenged.

    Actually, someone asked a valid question regarding the occurrence of GPS/tracker being fallen off the animal of interest especially concerning marine life in this situation. It is real about the validity of the scientific data that using GPS as a tracker. For example, if you have a group of 10 penguins you attached a GPS to (and your estimated time frame of tracking is 10 months till it is expected to fall off the host). During these 10 months, only 2 trackers were still emitting signals, do you make the conclusion that only 20% survival? Or, if you know the statistics of GPS being falling off penguins, let say, 50%… Then this 20% survival would become 70% survival (or less than 70%, there other more complicated factors in play that should be measured and used as a control). So it is important to find out the rate of transmitters fallen off the host in terms of strict scientific sense for valid scientific data. I would expect the experts got those numbers?

  169. Emma, thank you for those links and great work on all your research. I look forwarding to reading more.
    And Annie, thanks for your encouraging words and thoughts as well.

    For those of you sending emails, please post any updates you hear. I, too, emailed the Zoo, but no response. Someone from Sirtrack responded to me and simply said that she was wating for updates as well which would be posted as they know more. But it sounds like some of you have made some progress and at least the “experts” are hearing our concerns. Otherwise, the research of those who have posted here has been so helpful and hope-inspiring to me, thank you! And if all else fails, I hope that we will hear something from the microchip that is in HF as soon as he lands at a colony. Does anyone know when he is expected to land? I hear January, and then also in couple of years…I’m a little confused on that.

  170. Emma re post 162: Many thanks for the links. Will read ie learn, more (as we all should) when I have a chance. Knowledge is our best hope for trying to understand if the this was the right or wrong thing to do for the little guy. It is too easy to pass judgement and reach invalid conclusions when we view an extremely emotional situation through the prism of fear and misunderstanding. (and those images were hugely emotional)
    I would have to be the crassest most cynical person on earth to think anyone did anything without the absolute best of intentions armed with the best knowledge, for Happy Feet.
    I also emailed Our Far South yesterday and asked if all his keepers (Dr MIskelly, Dr Argilla, Wellington zoo, Sirtrack and Garth Morgan could post their most recent thoughts on this blog site as there is an huge number of justifiably concerned people who would really like to hear from them. Our Far South said they would forward the request).

  171. Dee and Marianne – great posts. Well said!

  172. It’s sad that so many people think there all vet’s and experts on emperor penguins.
    We most be happy that the people of NZ take such good care of Happy Feet.
    They have done what the could do for Happy Feet, his realese was the
    greatest thing to do!!!!!!!!!!
    Happy Feet makes it to NZ so he can make it also back to Antartica!!!!!
    Thank’s to all the people who take care of him.
    Happy Feet is a free bird and that,s the most important thing.!!!!!
    ( sorry for my english from the Netherlands ).

  173. I’m not an “expert” but I will try and answer some of the questions posted in comments to this blog. Here we go..

    Was Happy Feet betrayed?
    I doubt it – I don’t think penguins do betrayal all that well. It’s just a word we humans use to describe an emotion we feel.

    Are we owed answers because we put our hands in our pockets to help pay for his care?
    Maybe, but when you give a few dollars to a homeless person or charity, do you also chase after them, hassle them or bombard them with emails asking them to provide you with details of their every move and reasons behind those moves?

    Are Wellington Zoo insensitive for removing news about Happy Feet from their homepage?
    No. And Wellington Zoo are about so much more than Happy Feet. Yes, interest in the Zoo has increased because of the special patient, but they are also about conservation of other endangered animals and need to promote their other news and education programmes. Real estate space on a website homepage is highly sought after!

    If we all bombard Wellington Zoo with emails we’ll get them to act.
    Well I don’t know the answer to this one because I’m not sure what action you want from Wellington Zoo? Maybe you want someone from the Zoo to hop on a boat, meet up with Dr Lisa and, together, jump into the southern ocean to go looking for HF? Mind you on top of losing HF, we might also lose an amazing vet so maybe that’s not such a good idea.

    I’ve also noticed that some of the same people who were harassing or criticising Wellington Zoo on their Facebook page while HF was being cared for at the Zoo, are also out in force here. You all know who you are.

    As Irina No. 132 says…
    “I’m ashamed for people who claim to be emphatic for animals – and yet show no respect at all for those humans who did nothing but help an animal – and many, many more before and after.”

    Excellent words Irina…

    Finally, I know Happy Feet is alive and well – he asked me for a “follow” on Twitter yesterday 😉

  174. This is the email I received from Sirtrack yesterday:
    “Unfortunately the most likely scenario is that the transmitter has detached prematurely and sitting on the ocean floor.”.
    Well, at least they say something. But they should put this statement on their site.
    Same for the other “Experts”.
    People, who supported and trusted them and now are concerned, deserve something more than a words.

  175. Roxana…

    You have exquisitely expressed what so many, including myself, have been struggling with these past days: the feeling that HF was somehow betrayed, albeit unintentionally, by the very people who were responsible for his well-being….those same ‘experts’ who have now fallen silent to the demands of accountability, or offered up philosophical, cavalier responses. Cold comfort, indeed.

    Thank you, Roxana. And wherever he is, may HF be surrounded with love and light…

  176. I have had great difficulty in acquiring answers to my questions forwarded to DOC. I have had to look elsewhere and have come up with some answers but I cannot guarantee their validity. It’s such a pity that DOC don’t answer peoples concerns, I really thought they had an obligation to do so but I must be wrong. The fact that the RWC and ?? Dagg are relevant but answers to my questions regarding an Emperor Penguin on our shores are not, makes me realise why the Government of NZ are planning a funding cut for the Dept of Conservation.

    Emperor Penguin Range. Answers I have found – not from DOC.
    There only needs to be one sighting of an Emperor Penguin in an area, for it to become a Range. Peka Peka Beach will now be classed as a Range due to one juvenile Emperor Penguin – Happy Feet having being sighted there. In one of the above comments, it is stated that there are no Emperor Penguins’ in the area of Happy Feet’s release.

    We hear about the Antarctica Treaty which prohibited Happy Feet being returned within a set area. I emailed DOC prior to this Penguin’s release, asking how far South this area is but have never received a reply. My search for answers, again not from DOC.
    Hearsay tells me that it is 60 degrees. If this information is correct, then it would have been more appropriate for the Penguin to hitch a ride with Gareth Morgan, who very kindly offered to take him further South and closer to the Antarctica Treaty boundary, albeit a few months down the track.

    Given that the public from around the world, have dug deep into their pockets to aid in the future wellbeing of Happy Feet, we owed it to them but more importantly to the Emperor Penguin, to ensure the best possible scenario for his release back into the wild. I’m sorry but positive and warm fuzzy feelings aren’t enough in this case. God or the Universe, depending on a person’s belief, gave man a brain in order to benefit mankind. This is a case whereby, intelligence / expertise along with common sense, is required. Sure positive thinking has it’s place but on it’s own, it is not going to deal with the realities of this situation.
    I have tried to ascertain if the same experts who left the Emperor Penguin on Peka Peka Beach to die, are the same experts who were involved in his release. I have asked this question of DOC too but again no reply.
    In the early stages of his time on the beach, media reported that the Emperor Penguin was eating sand as he would normally eat ice or snow in order to hydrate himself. Alarm bells and common sense, told me immediately that sand was not going to break down in the penguin’s system as ice or snow would. He was going to be in big trouble if the experts’ didn’t immediately intervene. If the climate wasn’t going to kill him, then the sand surely would. Unbelievably, the experts’ did NOT intervene. How can that possibly be? When whales’ beach on our shores, they receive immediate intervention. Was it simply too hard for this particular branch of the DOC to deal with? Sure by the nature of the mammal it was going to be tricky but hey, what happened to Kiwi ingenuity? I did read that DOC would not let members of the public pour water over him! It must have been very difficult for those members of the public who were disallowed to assist the penguin, especially given that the experts’ were doing nothing to help him.
    If you haven’t already read how badly let down this Penguin was when he arrived at Peka Peka Beach, then please read the article in the following link. Watch the video by all means but it is the text that is most relevant.
    To quote Colin Miskelly: ” It is unlikely that we will ever know what caused the transmissions to cease, but it is time to harden up to the reality that the penguin has returned to the anonymity from which he emerged on 20 June. ” Unquote.

    Colin Miskelly, the Emperor Penguin maybe out of sight now but there are still very many unanswered questions’ remaining from very many people from around the world.

    I am finding the term “experts’” inappropriate under the circumstances. Please do not ask me to leave it to the “experts’” in this case.

  177. Dr. Miskelly stated in his above blog that the public are to “harden up” and accept that HF has returned to “the anonymity from which he came” and “there are no plans to interfere with this bird in future” from now on “it’s up to him” which simply means that there was not a rescue plan if he became unable to cope, and we are to put any concerns out of our minds and question no further. That “maybe, just maybe ‘someday’ he will be found” on one of the colonies like in a fairytale.
    I find the tone to be dismissive at this time when people are feeling worried about HF. Wellington Zoo has removed HF news, the NZ DOC is silent, the Vet Dr. Lisa is currently writing her Thesis.
    Yes, HF swam when he hit the water backwards off the ramp, what else was he to do? He did really well for the 5 days, he tried and I wish always that he succeeded in his journey.

    Some supporters here and on several other web pages push the “HF is ok, and even if he is ‘not’ ok he has still served a purpose for all penguins and humans.” Disappointingly, these bloggers also display a combative and challenging attitude towards anyone else who suggests the project may have failed, or who raise queries regarding the release plan and HF’s welfare. What is a Blog if not to query an issue and discuss.

    People would not be upset as so many are right now, if HF was taken to an environment among his own kind and then the signal later dropped out. His being “all alone” on the ocean against polar currents/ storms – He is not a fish! He is a penguin who recently had several surgical procedures, he is not indestructible like an ocean going Tanker, and what part of that don’t they understand! On that last day Friday, it strongly appears from the chart that he was being chased and hunted for a very long time until he died. Who would want that to happen, but this is a place to speak and share and was surely set up for this purpose.

    Personally I think the scenario of the glue and tape being most likely to fail, was meant as a safety valve in the event that HP was attacked by a predator. Who would be so cavalier with an expensive transmitter as to not attach it securely.

    This should not happen to another animal in distress that they are so quickly repaired and thrown back into whatever harsh environment caused their incapacity. No one knows what happened to HP before he arrived in NZ. If his direction faculties were not so good, he may have been injured previously during his 3 years of life by whales/seals that toss penguins into the air. He had to be pushed off the ship, he was looking all around at the people and he stepped back from the ramp, he was timid anyone could see that in the last video clip. In the very first video clip he was so ill that he kept falling over on the beach, does that look like a strong penguin who successfully made that journey to NZ only so he can ‘just go do it all again’? He had to be pushed into the water at the Zoo also, why? He may have fear memories but the constant mantra goes on and on, “he is an Emperor Penguin…he is therefore indestructible”.

    This is a significant debacle, the public wished to help Happy Feet, they donated the funds for his keep and medical treatment, and they are very worried. It was not a “good turn” or “charity” from the team but a “privilege” to help HF.

    I understood they intended to release HF right next to Campbell Island because they said that he was being delivered near to the island, I’ve been to NZ my uncle spent his whole career as a research scientist with the CSIRO I know there is no certainty in all things, but I was astounded when I saw the news item on tv that evening, and the video of a penguin searching around at everyone and hesitating nervously at the top of the slide into the ocean from the lunging ship, with a view where there was no island on the horizon.

    An Australian “expert” was interviewed on one of our 6.30 Reports in Melbourne that night, he stated that upon release into the ocean Happy Feet would be attempting to join other penguins as a priority and he did infer none were about…in his own words “He will be calling, but no one will hear”.. then he shrugged his shoulders saying that a large percentage of young penguins are taken by predators, he shrugged again at the inevitability!

    This is a moral issue about a duty of care, forcing HF into the ‘textbook’ situation of how penguins are expected to act “living on the ocean” by being robust and tough enough, or that’s just mother nature if they are to fail at surviving. In this instance, after what he had been through, it’s Not good enough! Those involved have failed to acknowledge and not responded except to “end the matter”.

    I checked the chart each day so sad for the poor little man, but he should not have to run for his life to prove he was fit enough, he did that once already, and since when do humans set such high standards upon themselves?

    My wishes for Happy well and ok, swim darlingheart so dear to us all.

  178. @Elisabeth “your hysterical calls for bombarding wellington zoo etc with emails is infantile, let the experts get on with their job”

    It’s astonishing, the level of intolerance encountered on this blog! Sadly, Elisabeth, you equate the demand for accountability with ‘hysteria’ and ‘negativity’. By all means, feel free to sing Kumbaya while the ‘experts’ fall silent.

    “Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion”…Edward Abbey.

  179. Sirtrack donated the tracker and set up the website for us to follow it for free. They gave us the opportunity to follow Happy Feet as he went back into the water.
    The tracker has given us a lot of reassuring information about Happy Feet and his ability to survive in the ocean. It shows us; –
    • Happy Feet knew which way was south and is slowly heading home
    • Fappy Feet is fit and well able to swim the distance is required to get him home by January
    • Happy Feet is able to fish and find food as shown by the typical penguin feeding circles
    • he was keeping well away from Campbell island and its sandy beaches
    and I really appreciate that sirtrack has given us the opportunity to see this.

    A lot has been written about whether Happy Feet is alive. The experts are telling us that most likely he is. This makes sense. Happy Feet was well able to survive the most difficult early years and made it safely to New Zealand, he hasn’t changed. What changed was that we attemtped to track him using a transmitter. This was untested for emperor penguins of his age and is also known to fall off other penguins at times . The most likely scenario is that it is this untested tracker that failed and not Happy Feet’s skills.

    I was thinking that when I can’t contact a friend I assume that it is because they have lost their phone or the battery is flat and not that they have been hit by a car. It is normal in this case to accept the most likely explanation – and it is what i think we need to do with Happy Feet.

    As for his release into the ocean – this is where adolescent penguins live . It seems that they do travel at this age – maybe to help them develop penguin skills needed as adults . It seems a bit like students travelling on a gap year to have fun and learn a bit more about the world.

  180. Hey Emma, Te Papa, and team,

    Thanks for keeping us in the loop of what is happen. I am from Singapore and I am watching this space with keen eyes. This episode has indeed raise the awareness of penguins and wildlife.

    I think once this episode becomes popular (like now), there will be many types of people from all over the world logging in and making comments and opinions. Try not to be down by some of the not too optimistic voices. You guys have done a great job. If my family do drop by New Zealand for a holiday, we would love to drop by Wellington Zoo 🙂

    Have a great day.

  181. to teresa,chenoa, kathy etc why don’t you exchange emails, and contact privately, your hysterical calls for bombarding wellington zoo etc with emails is infantile, let the experts get on with their job, why don’t you all say how much money you donated to the cause before calling for an email type petition. Dr Argilla is probably still on the boat and therefore has no more information than you have already been given (by newzealand experts)

  182. Hi, you may have noticed that sometimes, your comments don’t appear right away. Some are getting picked up by our moderation (because of the links and some words you use). I’m approving them as soon as I see them, but it might sometimes take a while if I’m away from my desk. You don’t need to re-submit them.
    Florence, web admin at Te Papa

  183. Haha…thanks Teresa. I knew nothing about Emperor Penguins until Happy Feet arrived on the scene. I just did a little research and discovered what I’ve shared. I’m concerned, like everyone else, about where Happy Feet will sleep when he’s at sea etc, so I decided to find out.

    Here’s a link for you, that contains John Cockrem’s comments :

    He’s from the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University. One article I read said he was an expert on New Zealand birds, penguins and Antarctica. In fact, if you go to the Massey University website and search for him, you will find out exactly what he does.

    If you google “Happy Feet” and then narrow your search down to News, you will see many articles available to read. Some are from New Zealand publications and some are from overseas publications and most contain quotes from John Cockrem.

    If you google “Emperor Penguins” you will find a wealth of information that should put your mind at rest. This is some info from the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology:

    “Average longevity for emperor penguins has been estimated at 19.9 years. At least 19.1% of young survive their first year and 95.1% of adults are estimated to survive from year to year.”

    Here’s that link :

    but, as I said, there are many, many more websites you can visit to get info.

    Good ‘ole Happy Feet made it past his first year of life, so with the next statistic mentioned, I’d say he’s got a better shot at surviving than most of us!

    Afraid I have a typical run-of-the-mill job, but I’d like to think (as everyone does!!!) that I have a book somewhere inside of me just dying to be written.

    I just think it’s important to stay positive. I’m a huge animal lover and I’m passionate about animal welfare. I abhor animal abuse of any kind and I advocate much harsher penalties for abusers than we currently impose in this country, but I absolutely believe that everything that was done for Happy Feet was done in his best interests and I’m sure that if everyone involved had the chance to do it all over again, they wouldn’t change a thing.

  184. Emma, may I ask what you do for a living?? Because you are one heck of a writer and motivator! You also seem to have a bit of knowledge on this subject – is that just from this case or do you have background experience in this area? Also, if you could provide some links, I would love to read more on this subject. And also, who is Dr. Cockrem? Is he an expert on Emperor penguins?

    I do have to say, though, it would be nice to read these comments from the “exoerts.” Their silence is disappointing. Nonetheless, you deserve to be commended, Emma. Your posts have given me a lot of hope. You are very convincing.

  185. Miranda – yes, you are right. Lisa Argilla will be upset that we have lost contact with her little buddy. She developed the closest bond with him.

    Good luck with your exam!! Hope everything goes well.

    It’s amazing how much discussion one little penguin has generated and how he’s captivated the imagination of so many people around the world. What a wonderful gift to leave us as he continues on his merry way home….

  186. O dear … I see I typed Miranda Smeink not Pd.D … that should have been Ph.D. Now I really look stupid! 😉

    Emma, I totally agree. When I said dr. Lisa Argilla must be upset, I was not implying she must be upset because the penguin is dead … I only meant she must be upset because the tracker doesn’t work anymore, nobody knows what happened, she’s critized etc.

    Well, that’s all for me. I got to quit writing, I’m too busy. Got an exam in 2 days, and I feel like everything has already been said anyway … .

  187. Emma – extremely well spoken!
    Happy Feet has proven once already what a survivor he is – but then again he is an Emperor penguin!!!!

  188. Guys…..first of all…..we aren’t experts and Associate Professor John Cockrem, from the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, thinks it’s highly likely Happy Feet is still alive. “Of the natural predators, leopard seals would be far further south, around the Antarctic continent, at this time,” he said. “I also think the chances of meeting an orca are pretty small.”

    Secondly, as I said yesterday, he is equipped to survive in these conditions. If you research Emperor Penguins, you will see, as many people have stated, that they can be at sea for months at a time. They don’t need ice floes to rest on, they can sleep in the water. They only need solid ice when they are ready to breed and Happy Feet, according to the people that know these things, is a year or two away from arriving in an Antarctic colony to breed.

    The right decision was made, by the people most capable of making it, to release him back into the sea at this point in time, at the latitude that they did. They undergo many years of training and they dedicate their lives to animals….do you honestly believe that they would do something so detrimental to the welfare of an animal?

    Here’s what Peter Simpson, from the Department of Conservation has to say :

    “I’m still confident we did the right thing by releasing him back into the wild. He’s a marine bird and he’s designed to swim and he’s designed to live in the ocean.”

    Also, technology fails and sometimes people aren’t that great at communicating. The signal from Happy Feet’s transmitter is no longer coming through and Sirtrack have advised us of that. What else can they do? If the tracking device is sitting at the bottom of the ocean, what more can they possibly tell us, other than what they already have? And what more can Wellington Zoo tell us? They will be referring to Sirtrack like the rest of us. They won’t have any more information. We can’t make the transmitter work again (if it’s been damaged) and we can’t re-attach it to Happy Feet (if it’s fallen off), so we just need to accept that.

    Lastly, according to the experts once again, Happy Feet’s zig-zag pattern of the few days they were able to track him and the path that he took, is typical for a penguin chasing fish and pretty usual.

    He’s doing what he wanted to do while he was in New Zealand. He’s in the water, having a ball catching fish, taking naps, slowly meandering his way home. He’s in no rush. He doesn’t need to find a hot female for a couple of years, so why not enjoy life along the way?

    And if any of you have used glue of any description, even superglue, you will know that sometimes, even when they’re not supposed to, things fail.

    I understand the anguish a lot of you feel….believe me, I do too. But, as with anything in life, whether it’s learning a loved one has cancer, losing your cat or dog, or facing any challenge that comes our way….you have to have hope. You have to stay positive. If we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be able to survive at all.

    What do you think Happy Feet is? He’s a survivor. He made it to New Zealand all by himself (I don’t honestly think he was released from a fishing boat) and if that doesn’t show the stamina, tenacity and determination of the little guy, then nothing will. He was far more at risk heading to our shores, in warmer water and with the risk of sandy beaches along the way, than he is now, at home in icy cold waters and frigid temperatures.

    Chin up, everyone!!!

  189. Sorry for the repeat posts (151, 154, 156) – I got an error message and kept trying.

  190. I saw that, too, on Wellington Zoo’s website – I found their removal of Happy Feet’s news now, at sensitive time like this, to be unprofessional, class-less, and inappropriate. That’s why I think we should all follow up and contact them, let them know how we feel. I agree that Dr. Lisa Argilla must be upset, but again, I think they all still have a responsibility to the public – they can’t disappear and abandon us now.
    Nancy, as for the Zoo’s email, I just posted a question via their online form under “Contact Us.” I will see if they respond to me. However, there were also other email links that I will use if I don’t get an answer and you could use as well, i.e., for general inquiries. As for Sirtrack, there are individual email addresses for NZ, USA, and international reps also under “Contact Us.” Or, there is also for inquiries related to Happy Feet.
    As for Dr. Miskelly, I will see what I find, unless someone has information on that. Honestly, everyone, I really think they need to hear from us now. The more people persist, the more they will act.

  191. Perhaps, Teresa…well said.

  192. I saw that, too, on Wellington Zoo’s website – I found their removal of Happy Feet’s news now, at sensitive time like this, to be unprofessional, class-less, and inappropriate. That’s why I think we should all follow up and contact them, let them know how we feel. I agree that Dr. Lisa Argilla must be upset, but again, I think they all still have a responsibility to the public – they can’t disappear and abandon us now.

    Nancy, as for the Zoo’s email, I just posted a question via their online form under “Contact Us.” I will see if they respond to me. However, there were also other email links that I will use if I don’t get an answer and you could use as well, i.e., for general inquiries. As for Sirtrack, there are individual email addresses for NZ, USA, and international reps also under “Contact Us.” Or, there is also for inquiries related to Happy Feet.

    As for Dr. Miskelly, I will see what I find, unless someone has information on that. Honestly, everyone, I really think they need to hear from us now. The more people persist, the more they will act.

  193. Chenoa, you know, that is a very sad image to have on one’s mind. But let’s take comfort from a few things – Happy Feet has no memory of that. In fact, he took off and never looked back. And also, for the few days that we received signals, he was making his way forward at good speed. Dr. Lisa Argilla did what she knew she had to do. In the end, my bet is that her opinion was consulted as to whether and when it would be appropriate to release HF. She knew it was the best for him. And no doubt she is a success because she has learned to erase the emotional images from her mind, knowing that it’s the creature’s best interest that matters, not hers.

  194. @Miranda “I think it a pity we don’t hear from Lisa Argilla anymore. On the other hand, I can’t even begin to imagine how she must be feeling. She must be very upset.”

    Agreed, Miranda…If there is one person for whom I have compassion, it is Dr. Lisa Argilla. Clearly, she was devoted to HF’s well-being, and to have that last video clip of her pushing a scared and reluctant penguin down the ship’s stern and into the churning ocean as the final image imprinted upon everyone’s memory…that’s got to really hurt.

  195. I saw that, too, on Wellington Zoo’s website – I found their removal of Happy Feet’s news now, at sensitive time like this, to be unprofessional, class-less, and inappropriate. That’s why I think we should all follow up and contact them, let them know how we feel. I agree that Dr. Lisa Argilla must be upset, but again, I think they all still have a responsibility to the public – they can’t disappear and abandon us now.

    Nancy, as for the Zoo’s email, I just posted a question via their online form under “Contact Us.” I will see if they respond to me. However, there were also other email links that I will use if I don’t get an answer and you could use as well, i.e., for general inquiries. As for Sirtrack, there are individual email addresses for NZ, USA, and international reps also under “Contact Us.” Or, there is also for inquiries related to Happy Feet.

    As for Dr. Miskelly, I will see what I find, unless someone has information on that. Honestly, everyone, I really think they need to hear from us now. The more people persist, the more they will act.

  196. The “Experts” must come up and show their faces…and speak.
    Otherwise there will be a lot of very ubhappy people.

  197. Teresa if you have email addresses can you post them?
    I checked Wellington Zoo website awhile ago and they have taken news of Happy Feet’s release off their main page!!!! Not impressed!!!
    Also, I can’t imagine also, how the keepers must be feeling…. But yes – more communication from all parties definitely needed. Gotta run….

  198. @ Miranda…Chenoa: No, it wasn’t supposed to fall off, but Sirtrack also says: “In any wildlife research project it is accepted that there may be a premature detachment of the satellite transmitter.”

    Thank you, Miranda. I previously directed a question (post #67) to Sirtrack’s representative on this very blog: what is the rate of ‘transmitter drop-off’ from the back feathers of penguins’…. They must have statistics. Unfortunately, no response.

    Meanwhile, some good ideas, Teresa…what to do when they’ve circled the wagons?…

  199. I genuinly think that Sirtrack, Dr. Miskelly and Lisa Argilla, certaily very upset, must however speak to the people that , in one way or another , supported HF.

  200. Chenoa: No, it wasn’t supposed to fall off, but Sirtrack also says: “In any wildlife research project it is accepted that there may be a premature detachment of the satellite transmitter.”

    No company will shout out loud that their products sometimes aren’t as good as they are supposed to be. Not good for business.I guess Sirtrack wil be no exception to that.
    But they are investigating, and I think that’s good. I think it a pity we don’t hear from Lisa Argilla anymore. On the other hand, I can’t even begin to imagine how she must be feeling. She must be very upset.

  201. I really think that Sirtrack should communicate more and give as many informations as possible.I am convinced that they are upset as us and that they are tryingf to do something.
    But they must speak and tell the people what the real situation is.
    They talked about satellite`s problems. What answer did they get from the company running them?
    They are the only ones possibly speaking about facts. The rest is speculation.
    We love Happy Feet and pray for him to go safely home, with or without tracking device.

  202. I just sent an email on the Wellington Zoo’s website asking for some help and answers. After HF was released, the website said that Dr. Lisa Argilla would continue to post comments due to popular demand. However, I have not read one post from her since 9/8. She was closest to HF – I think she also has a responsibility to continue her involvement. My thought is that if persons on this blog would do the same and write to the Zoo, they will have to respond. They may not even know about this blog so we need to contact them directly. I believe in this. Just the way the public outcry got them to act in the first place, it can work now, too – power in numbers. Also, I have the email address for someone at Sirtrack that I had been communicating with. I can contact her again and ask her how we can get more answers. Otherwise, I would recommend again, that everyone here email Sirtrack directly (and do the same to Dr. Miskelly). I am not saying that we need to be rude or aggressive. But we need and deserve answers. After all, the public donated to the cause, didn’t they? Where else did the $30K come from? We have a right to answers then. But I really believe that we individually need to persistently reach out to these people the way we have been reaching out on this blog, and keep up at it.


  203. Very good idea Teresa – any idea how to petition them?

  204. It is obvious that everyone is frustrated.
    It’s obvious everyone wants answers – probably no one more so than his keepers!!!
    Somehow I imagine that his keepers are trying to find the answers – and I don’t expect they will get them overnight!

  205. If I make a suggestion at this point – why doesn’t each one of us petition the experts directly, then? I believe that our shared frustrations stem from a lack of response from those who know more or should know more. Why don’t we email or petition for more answers (rather than barrage each other with attacks)? No offense, but isn’t this Dr. Miskelly’s blog, and I have not heard a peep out of him.

  206. @ Nancy Campbell “Sarcastic, negative bloggers reread post 122 – a good suggestion that you should start your own negative blog site and get off this one where compassionate and reasoned views are expressed.

    Demand accountability, Nancy. While all of your so-called compassionate and reasoned views may be of service to make YOU feel better, they will do nothing to reveal what actually happened. Since the penguin’s ‘disappearance’, his keepers have been largely incommunicado. Why? There is a large faction who believe that his release was untimely and mishandled. We want answers and they have been slow to provide them. Hence, the expression of anger and frustration. Nothing wrong with that, Nancy!

    In fact, we could use more of it, not less.

  207. Sarcastic, negative bloggers reread post 122 – a good suggestion that you should start your own negative blog site and get off this one where compassionate and reasoned views are expressed.
    It’s no wonder the experts are no longer posting when they have to subject their views to your CONSTANT BORING, NON-PRODUCTIVE, NEGATIVE and ILL-INFORMED responses.

  208. The only really sad part of the whole story is the fact, that people ask, if the rescue was worth it. Every cent, which was spent in Happy Feet’s rescue was the best investment ever. And i hope, if next week another penguin would arrive NZ, every involved person would act like they did it now. Rescue the antarctic and nature generally should be the most important task all over the world, and when the antarctic-contract in 2040 will not be continued, penguins will go to history, like many animal species before. I hope that then no one will express doubt about this rescue ever again. Shame on the criticals. A very wonderful story is pulled through the dirt because of the greediness of some stupid persons, which haven’t recognize the importance of protecting nature and it’s wildlife. But yes, let’s spend some money to humanity……i’m sure we will need it soon, when we have to leave this destroyed planet. Incidentally: if natures fine also the disasters of mankind will be reduced!funny cycle!
    And the little penguin, Mr. Happy Feet, changed the world in every way…maybe only a short time, but he did……and he did great!!
    Safe journey, little man!!!!

  209. “We think the most likely scenario is tag detachment,” Lay said. “The intention was always that the transmitter would fall off.”

    Oh, really? The transmitter was not ‘intended’ to ‘fall off’ at any point. Moulting is a process of feather ‘replacement’, so the transmitter would have remained glued to the those feathers, even after the bird had shed those feathers through moulting. “Experts’…explain that one, please…

  210. Yes, Nancy and Miranda, you are both right. I think it is entirely possible that there is a technical/mechanical explanation for this. I read that Sirtrack does these trackings a lot – I want to give them the benefit of the doubt that they knew what they were doing and might even be able to get this device working again or be able to find out why it isn’t. I just wish I didn’t feel so uncomfortable with the suggestion that the device “fell off” – after just a few days? :(((
    Some assurance from them would be nice. I give them a great deal of credit for their contribution to this cause. However, I do feel that they have an ethical obligation to the public now to see it through and offer their support and the benefit of their experience.
    Also, this may be old news to some, I don’t know. But did anyone hear about the microchip that was implanted in Happy Feet? Not all hope is lost!

  211. Great points Teresa and Miranda! Lets keep hoping that some of the involved experts will keep in touch, let us know their thoughts/theories. Also lets remind ourselves again of all the technical variables which may be currently interfering with signals.

  212. All these premature conclusions make me very tired ….. we still don’t even know why there’s no signal. Sirtrack says on its website: There is a small chance that solar flares at the earth’s poles have interrupted the transmissions from reaching the satellites however we are receiving data from other satellite transmitters located in New Zealand.
    The intensity of geomagnetic storms varies at the different locations on earth. Around the poles, they are strong, Last 24 hours, there was still a strong geomagnetic activity (kp was 5, which means geomagnetic storm). There’s still a possibililty that the tracker starts working again.
    We just don’t know and have to trust the people of Sirtrack are doing the best they can to find some explanation.

  213. Nice thoughts, Irina, I hear your frustration. Nothing is ever right. And people will always find fault in everything.
    I do wish, however, that Sirtrack, or even Dr. Lisa at Wellington Zoo, would post some comments or updates. I do feel as if they have taken a back seat here and have not responded to the public’s cries, even if just to assuage our anxiety. I think we could all use some professional, expert feedback at this point, whatever it is.

  214. @Laurice The plant analogy fails definitely – HF’s not a fragile plant that needs sunshine and warmth to grow, he’s a PENGUIN, designed for these surroundings! The analogy fails as much as if you would have said, he’s a human baby, chucked out of the mother’s womb into a winter’s night.
    Why don’t you think he ate sand – because he was too HOT! He needs the cold! He needs the ocean! He showed more and more signs he wanted to be free!

    I really can’t believe the view some people take of a wild animal that is really nothing but a fragile plant, nothing like a human baby.
    I was really sad too, to have lost his track. I also cried and was worried he might be dead.
    But really, he wanted to be free, they set him free, and that was the right thing.

    If HF had been kept longer and then died in captivity, because of distress, because maybe he jumped against the pool windows, the cage walls, the mirror there or something – I don’t even wanna start to imagine the outcry, why he WASN’T set free earlier!!

    In Germany we say in situations like these: Whatever I’ll do, it will be wrong anyhow.
    That’s what Wellington Zoo now faces. I suppose they knew it, so I hope they won’t take these horrible accusations too hard and go on with their amazing job.

    Well, I’m out here, too.
    I’m ashamed for people who claim to be emphatic for animals – and yet show no respect at all for those humans who did nothing but help an animal – and many, many more before and after.

    Let them do their job – and return to your real life, as HF has returned to his!

  215. Thank you very much for this comment, laurice dee. compliments to you.


  216. People have been speculating the following:

    • The tracker device became loose and came off Sir Happy Feet’s feathers.
    • The electrical portion of the tracker failed that would cause the signal not to transmit.
    • Sir Happy Feet swam underwater during the last several satellite passes.
    • Sir Happy Feet had been taken by a predator.

    Some people strongly believe that Sir HF is still alive, whereas others fear that he may be gone forever.

    The fact is that we still do not know what had happened to Sir Happy Feet!

    The timing of Sir HF’s release is definitely very concerning since he was released into the open ocean at the 51-degree latitude, as well as into unpleasant winter weather.

    Let me share an analogy. I find a distressed plant in my backyard and bring it inside for nurturing. After a series of treatments, as well as complete care, the plant starts to show sign of life. Since it’s winter time, I would not take the plant back outside. I would wait until spring before I replant the recovering plant in the backyard so that it would have a much better chance to grow and survive.

    The release situation for Sir HF is no different from that of the distressed plant. Letting him go much too soon – especially when it is still winter in New Zealand – definitely sounds like bad timing. Add to this is the location which consists of nothing but open ocean. My research shows nothing about emperor penguins swimming in the 51-degree latitude nor does it show emperor penguins living at Campbell Island which is about 50 miles south of Sir HF’s drop-off point. Most emperor penguins – including juveniles – are found south of the 57-degree latitude where icebergs are plentiful.

    I can truly imagine Sir HF fighting against the elements – especially the large swells, strong winds, and powerful currents – in that vicinity and feeling so exhausted but have absolutely no place – such as an ice floe – to leap onto to rest and to protect himself from predators. The exaggerated zigzag pattern from the last transmission is definitely very telling. It appears as if Sir HF got tossed around in the churning waters. Or his tracker device could have come off while he was being tossed around. Who knows!

    I understand that Gareth Morgan had offered to bring Sir HF down south on his upcoming Antarctic expedition next February. Link regarding his offer is as follows: Why can’t everyone wait until that time before releasing Sir HF since he would have had a much better chance to survive, especially with the pack ice, members of his own kind, and an abundant supply of food being readily available?

    If it hadn’t been for the bad timing of the release, we would still be following Sir HF’s whereabouts through tracking and be assured of the worthwhile care that he received while in New Zealand!

    By the way, the Japanese whalers and their pursuer – Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) – won’t travel to the Southern Ocean until this coming December. The whalers participate in their whaling activities from December to March every year. The mission of the SSCS is to keep the whalers from whaling while adhering to international laws. For them to be in that vicinity during winter would be so downright ridiculous!

  217. @Gabriele1949
    Many thanks for your executions, with it everything is said, actually.
    So let us hope. I’m sure our litte boyfriend is on the right way – back home to his colony.

  218. Conny,
    as I said I am convinced that before HF was released everybody did his best to give him the maximum chances.
    I am convinced too that Sirtrack really hoped that it was possible to monitor his trip back home. I want to congratulated them for that.
    I personally think that HF could have been release further south. There were some people ready to do that…But , ok, now this is history.
    I personally do not like this long debate with people accusing each others .
    It is not doing any good, especially to HF.
    Nature, God, what You want, send us this little creature.
    Very good and motivated people took care and , actually saved him.
    I am deeply convinced that they gave him the best treatment and put him back in good conditions , ready for the great trip back home.
    It was a message that HF brought to us from Mother Nature: We , Penguins, exist as well as many other animals, do not forget,
    Now HF is back in the wild and probably we will never know something about him.
    This is how nature is and we must accept it.
    Even with all our technology sometime we must understand that we are still not perfect and we can fail.
    I simply say that there are many, many people concerned about HF, and a lot of kids.
    Having for them some confort from the people who took care of HF will help them in understanding,
    Just some statement about loss of tracking devices and positive hopes will help in explaining that now it is time for thanking HF for what he brought to us and wish him good luck, safe trip and happy landing.

  219. @Gabriele1949
    Sorry – I live in Germany. Thus a certain time movement exists for me. Tomorrow for me 48 hours are (Wednesday) around. In addition, SIRTRACK has guaranteed still to do other than to communicate here only with us. We should trust Sirtrack and allow to do her work and put not still demands. Nevertheless, all other does not help us.

  220. This was posted monday three days after they lost track of HF.
    They say that are asking the company running the satellite for more news in 48 hours. Nothing, not even a note saying ” satellite are ok”.
    Many people( me included) asked if it is usual a premature loss of tracking devices and how often it happens. No answer.
    I am not blaming them for their job . Certainly they did their best and should be sad as us. But they must communicate with people.

  221. I have to do everything what with Happily Feet has pursued from beginning.
    I have hoped, have been worried, have a lot questions and tried to understand. There are a lot of good entries of rationally thinking people, but but what I absolutely do not understand, is how stupid some people are and what needs to be made for unqualified statements partially – whether here or elsewhere. I must say that shames me beyond measure. I also have not in the slightest desire to speak further here about it.

    I hope furthermore which is Happily Feet on his way home – whether with or without Transmitter. He came from Nothing and he has disappeared in Nothing again.

    For me all involved parties – started from Wellington Zoo about ourfarsouth, Te Papa’s Blog and Sirtrack – have earned my topmost respect and thanks !

    So; this must go sometimes out, after I have read up here everything.

    With kind regards from Germany


    P.S. Sorry for my horrible English 😉

  222. All this talking will not help HF to go home.
    Accusations too.
    HF belongs to the wild and he is back there. His survival instinct will help him to find the way.
    Be positive and pray for that.
    My only remark is for Sirtrack. Thay took three days before saying that there was a problem. Now they are not giving any more infos and not answering any question about their device and the possibilities of unwanted loss. What are they doing?

  223. Some people are beyond words…………………about all I can say at this point, is perhaps if you want to be negative you can move onto another site….this site is for those that support Happy Feet and the team that have done a great job in a very difficult situation, not only have they assisted a wild animal but raised awareness of the emperor penguin at the same time.

    Sadly sometimes to love is to let go……….HF likely quite happy in his own environment.

  224. I cannot help feeling that this penguin has been the victim of some individuals who simply used him to give themselves time in the limelight, without giving due consideration to the long term welfare of the penguin itself.

  225. It seems that the real debate here (after sorting through the strong language) is between the people who believe that the penguin has simply lost his tracker and those who believe that he is dead due to being so far away from the sea ice that penguins use as an escape. Both sides have valid points, and what is needed are some actual facts.
    Very few facts have been provided in this blog, but Dr. Cochrem’s statement that it is unlikely that the penguin encountered an Orca is certainly encouraging. So far, Dr. Miskelly hasn’t confirmed or denied that assumption, but Dr. Cochrem’s statement is a start anyway.
    I don’t claim to know the range or migration patterns of Orcas in the south Pacitic, and am seriously interested in hearing from someone who does. It would seem that Orcas would be attracted to the fish at the Campbell Island fishing area, but then again, if the fish were abundant enough, the Orcas might not be too interested in penguins. In the north Atlantic, Orcas feed mostly on fish, but as they migrate south to the eastern coast of the USA, they leave the fish populations and are very hungry, so they will eat seals and baby whales. But when I found a map of Orca ranges, I noticed that the south Pacific patterns are very different from the north Atlantic patterns, and Orcas did not seem to be a common species in the Campbell Island area. I would certainly like to hear more from an expert on that subject.
    Also, since the coordinates of HF’s last location are a matter of record, I hope that someday, when the weather is better, someone will lower a camera and inspect that region for possible underwater hazards, such as abandoned fishing nets.
    For now, I will hope that the tracker has simply fallen off.

  226. Somebody asked Sirtrack if they had already experienced loss of tracking deviced on other penguins , how often and after how much time.
    Any answer?

  227. Well, it appears that the ‘feel-good’ parade is in full swing…no need to debate the issue of what might have been in the best interest of this penguin, nor examine the questionable timing and location of his release, so long as we can all get back to feeling ‘hopeful’ again as soon as possible.

    good luck with that…

  228. Wow K.Bates, awesome contribution. Obviously well researched and thought out. You should definitely join the screen play collaboration mentioned above.

  229. Has anyone informed happy feet that he is missing? I understand the transmitter is no longer transmitting….so the signal is missing…that is all.

  230. So I understand: you guys dropped Happy Feet in the ocean 2,000 km from his home and you are actually surprised he has gone missing? Hard luck and all that, eh?

    I am so sad that he was in the hands of such stupid people.

    What a bunch of lazy soft-headed clowns: people who couldn’t organize and do things properly, couldn’t think ahead, show initiative or take care of business. In the age of the Internet, you could easily have raised the funds required to take him home properly.

    You dumb lazy jackasses.

  231. Teresa – we all wish we know more!!!!!! Maybe then we wouldn’t be feeling this lost simply through our woeful lack of knowledge.
    We all must stop underestimating the strength nature has given all her creatures.

  232. Nancy, thank you, you are very wise.
    I wish I knew more about the Emperor penguins than I do. If I did, I might not be so “vulnerable” to the comments and posts of others, both negative and positive. I came to this blog looking for some hope that Happy Feet is alive and well. I think that’s what we all want, to know that this beautiful and strong creature’s story of survival and endurance has a positive ending. I need that hope. So to all of you with your positive and genuine comments, you know who you are-thank you.

  233. Teresa: You are right to listen to the positive and compassionate people. Their logic as well as their hearts are in the right place.
    Never underestimate the abilities and survival skills of the Emperor penguin. Somehow I think they, and Happy Feet are far stronger than you, I and the skeptics.

  234. Your final paragraph was beautiful. Thank you for these words of closure.
    Constance Harris NYC

  235. Emma and Al, you are both godsends! Thanks to your posts, my tears are lessening. Your posts gave me so much positive to think about and dwell on.

  236. Well spoken Emma, Miranda and Al.
    I truly hope that this will continue to be a blog where extremely thoughtful and compassionate discussion will continue WITHOUT hysteria,obnoxious ignorance and vitriol predominate!
    It isunbelievable some of the most ridiculous tangents that have evolved.
    Let not our own assumptions of what is ‘right’ or ‘natural’ obscure the discourse.
    Of the many posts observed, it seems many are still missing the MAIN point: Happy Feet is a SURVIVOR – with or without the transmitter. Shame on us for neglecting that point. God speed little guy.
    How long could YOU endure what his species does? How dare you in the comfort of your chair in front of your computer even assume to know where he might be and what he wants, his stamina, his needs and what his species endures?
    Somehow I think ( and pray) Happy Feet is precisely where he wants to be without the artifact of our technology.
    Still – I can’t help checking the websites – hoping for amazing good news!

  237. Meg…time to go back to ’empathy’ school…

  238. But on the plus side I think some of you may have a future in the entertainment industry. Perhaps you could collaborate on a screen play? Although with the level of drama and hyperbole shown I’m thinking you might be more suited to a made for TV soap opera type drama or miniseries. It could screen on a Sunday evening. That’s the usual melodrama timeslot here anyway.

    It would have danger! “world’s most treacherous currents”, “cruelly dumped/pushed into the stormy southern ocean”

    Villains and other evil “hardened people”

    High emotion – he’s “alone, reluctant, confused”

    Death! “viciously attacked and devoured”

    Conspiracy theories – “With that, you wonder, what else was the public misled about?”

    Music! (Because everyone likes music) “everyone was singing hallelujah”

    Cynicism – “ Perhaps it was for publicity stunt, They wanted to show the world…”we care!”

    Extreme emotion – “mighty furious!”

    And more drama, overwrought statements and hand wringing than anyone could possibly bear – “This might have been ‘only a game’ to some people, but it wasn’t a game to him.”

    Seriously, you all know who you are. Think about it. It could be winner.

  239. Some of you guys are insane. This penguin is just at home in the sea as you are in your living room. It’s where they live. To think he was dropped in the middle of nowhere shows you do not grasp basic understanding of a penguin’s behavior. As someone pointed out – surely if he could get to NZ on his own, he can get back to (wherever he goes) on his own. In fact, he’s back there already – the sea. His home isn’t Antarctica. It’s the sea. Land is just where they raise their young. They’d much rather be in the sea. Watching videos of them walking on land, vs. swimming should explain that very easily.

    Secondly, to assume that just because we aren’t getting a signal anymore means he’s dead – you must lead a very sad life, as a complete pessimist. Sure, we’re all disappointed that we can’t see his progress. Humans are natural voyeurs. But to automatically think it means trouble, when so many other possibilities are extremely likely, shows either: a) you always think the worst, or b) you’re looking to find fault in something these guys did. I think many of you are in the b) camp, because you think he was dropped in the middle of nowhere. (see my first paragraph) The middle of nowhere to you and I is home, sweet home for HP.

    Please, think about my points with an open mind.

  240. Apropos:
    Emperor penguins swim faster than whales…


  241. @Steve Craig Too bad to see you leave, you were making me gain a lot of additional hope that HF is still out there.
    Some of these comments are far to emotion-ridden, as if HF is a pet dog or something, thrown into the ocean and paddling for dear life. But he is a strong, well-fed animal born for these harsh climate conditions, designed for it by evolution!

    And I’m really sad for Dr Lisa and her collegues who are now condemned as much as they were praised before. But that’s to often the common way if something seems to have gone wrong. Sad, very sad.

  242. Steve C and Emma, well said. I think it’s highly likely that HF is doing just fine, he’s in his natural environment where he’s survived for years already.

    But you won’t get through to the dimwits, they won’t listen to reason and are not worth the effort. I am shocked by their sheer ignorant nastiness towards the people who gave HF his second chance.

  243. yes, inacceptable. but what can we do now…?


  244. Well said Emma & Steve. Totally agree with your comments.

    Lets hope Happy Feet is doing fine, swimming in his natural environment

  245. @Kathy M – post 93:

    If you truly worked in wildlife rescue and your best idea was to put the animal in a zoo, then its obvious to me why you no longer work in wildlife rescue.

    Wild animals get viciously attacked and devoured every day. I guess you want us to round em all up and stop that from happening, huh? Not every problem is solved by taking things back to america for safety, despite what you may think. Some of us are just fine down here on the other side of the world.

    And a little sidenote….I didnt even read the whole post but I was able to tell that the dude’s name was Steve and his last name was Craig. You can’t even get that right…or maybe you just dont care enough to try.

  246. Maybe I sound stupid, but if I take a look at the information at Sirtrack on the transmitters, it says: Maximum theoretical life at 25˚C using cell manufacturers stated capacity.
    I guess sea temperatures are very low around Arntarctica, something like 5 degrees C ? Is it possible that the transmitter’s battery just won’t function (or only for a very short time) at this temperature?

  247. To Steve…Kathy did not ‘want’ the penguin to go to a zoo…but suggested it as an option if it was determined that he was NOT capable of surviving ‘at this time’ in the wild….(and, for the record, I don’t like zoos. Animal sanctuaries, yes. Zoos…no).

    You make many valid points, Steve, but the bottom line is indisputable: with much fanfare, a rescued juvenile penguin who underwent multiple medical procedures was released 2 months later into a stormy southern ocean at 51+ degrees, to swim for his life in the world’s most treacherous currents, far from his Antarctic home, far from the natural range of other juvenile penguins…alone, reluctant, and possibly confused.

    And now that he’s ‘lost’ we’re told by his keepers “Ah well, that’s life”…


  248. Guys…..have you been listening to what Sirtrack have been saying?! Take a look at this from the TVNZ website:

    So…..let’s all relax and not assume the worst. Rather than beat yourselves up about it, isn’t it better to imagine that he’s swimming freely in the ocean, right now, as we speak? Why do a lot of you assume that he’s dead? The reality is that Happy Feet was born to survive in such a hostile environment. Just because it’s cold and the waves are high and the weather may be stormy, doesn’t mean that he’s in trouble. He’s equipped with everything he needs to navigate his way through all of this. Yes, there may be predators around him, but once again, he’s equipped to deal with them. If you research Emperor Penguins, you will find out why they are black and white. It’s to shield them from predators below them and to camouflage them when they are hunting for food.

    We go about our daily lives at far more risk of injury and death than Happy Feet will ever experience. He doesn’t have to dodge cars and buses or try not to cut his fingers off when he’s cooking. He’s in a safe place, a place he’s comfortable with and knows best. He was born there. He spent two months in a foreign place and most likely felt miserable. How do you all feel when you go on holiday to a place where you don’t speak the language? You’re relieved when you finally get home, back to familiar surroundings.

    It’s simply the fact that a tracking device was attached to him in the first place that makes this difficult for people to deal with. When we hear stories of a lion rescued from a terrible situation, rehabilitated and returned to the wild, we rejoice. It’s a heartwarming story and we are happy that he’s back where he belongs. We don’t need a tracking device on him to feel that happiness.

    Let’s treat Happy Feet in this way. Let’s forget he had the damn tracking device on him in the first place. Let’s just remember that we took him as close to home as we possibly could and that we gave him the best chance that we could and that he swam away from the boat happily. He certainly never tried to scramble back up the ramp, did he? Or circle the boat?

    He’s home…he’s free…’s the way it should be. Of course, we won’t forget him and we shouldn’t. He, more than any world leader or public figure, managed to unite so many people from so many different countries around the world and that makes him a very special little guy.

    Go well, Happy Feet…..enjoy your life, have fun, make some babies and maybe, once in awhile, remember the “aliens” who helped you and who remember you with big smiles on their faces and in their hearts.

    You are one cool penguin!!!

  249. I cannot understand why the hell they just dumped him in the middle of nowhere to fend for himself with a marathon swim ahead of him, particularly with the eyes of the world watching.

    After all the time in confinement, and the effort and money that was employed to nurse him back to health, you’d think they could have gone that extra mile to ensure he was released on land and amongst a colony, if for no other reason than safety in numbers.

    Hopefully the transmitter has just fallen off, but I suspect otherwise. At best, this was a half-arsed release mission, where common sense and compassion for the little critter went out the window.

  250. It is pathetic!
    But last and new hope is, Happy Feet is without GPS on the way home…… and he is doing well.


  251. Steve – Again Well Said! Don’t leave this blog for too long – some points of view need a balanced counterpoint.
    Of course this is an emotional issue, that doesn’t mean we leave reasoning aside.
    Regardless of all the things that have been said, I still think we as human ‘animals’ with all our opinions educated and not, continue to underestimate the resilience of this amazing species and Happy Feet in particular!!!

  252. No Craig, obviously we wanted him to be viciously attacked and devoured. Possible placement at Sea World may have been the only option. It’s not a zoo and they are set up and take great care for these birds. Sometimes these animals and birds won’t make it back in the wild. It varies with each animal. I know because I’ve worked in wildlife rescue. I think they had other issues in mind leaving him where they did, knowing he had gotten lost in the first place.

  253. And Chenoa, once again….you do realize Kathy wanted him to go to a zoo….right? Is that the dignity you sought for him? 🙂

  254. Chenoa #85: (before anyone calls me a liar for reappearing here, I was informed that there was a reply and came to read it – I forgot to turn my notifications off and curiosity got the better of me…)

    This was not a beached whale in Alaska or oil-covered petrels in the Falklands or any other type of relatively routine occurrence with respect to creatures that are turning up in their normal “stomping grounds”. This was a rare and fascinating event that caught the attention of many people virtually the moment it happened. I, for one, have been following this story since long before the Wellington Zoo got involved – likely through the BBC site but I honestly don’t recall where I first read about it. All I am saying here is that this was not a run-of-the-mill rescue and rehab situation and really there is no proper way to compare it to those sorts of ventures.

    I do not wish to seem unsympathetic to your issues, I truly don’t. I am saying I think they are unfair, though, for the most part. The 24/7 cam had no effect whatsoever on the effort as it didn’t impact the penguin directly in any way; in fact, on a couple of occasions I noticed people were actively letting the Zoo know when the ice seemed to be low or the penguin seemed to be in ANY kind of distress so it may well have been a boon to the whole affair. As for the on-display operations: I don’t know if you’ve been following this story through the Wellington Zoo’s own website (I have, from far-away Toronto) but the public operation are a regular occurrence there and were not cooked up for this one little animal. It’s simply the way they operate and it appears to be quite a popular way of doing things. Because of this, I don’t imagine it had any affect on his surgical care, either. I also feel that if they had wanted to really take advantage of his incredible popularity they would have had a live feed for the operations as well, which they did not. To me, the live operations are also a non-issue, unless you wish to make them a general issue and that is a whole other matter. Then you should probably contact the zoo directly.

    As for all the other little frills put on by the organizations donating money to the cause: were they “necessary”? Of course not, but how on earth did having the online community sign a card for an animal incapable of reading the very same card have any effect (positive or negative) on the decision-making process? This is a leap I cannot take with you – with any of you. I really feel that everyone involved thought it was truly wonderful that so many people had so much emotion invested in the story and were looking for any way to be inclusionary. Was it for publicity? Likely, but so what? Our Far South had donated thousands upon thousands of dollars to this project without demanding anything in return. What’s the problem with a little publicity? But for anyone to say it had any detrimental effect whatsoever on the decisions made as to his release is just preposterous. Look, if their sole purpose was for “publicity” then don’t you think the current situation is just about the WORST publicity they could ever have received? Obviously nobody wanted this result. Nobody.

    I can only truly agree with the last point you made: that if there hadn’t been such a world-wide crush to see how this whole story turned out then there wouldn’t be the global angst and second-guessing that we are witnessing on the internet the past few days. But with real devotion and dedication come the possibility of heartbreak. People need to know that going in: with a wild animal there is never a guarantee of anything. The tracker was not put on the penguin just for the public to follow him but rather as part of a bigger scientific picture. But placing the tracker there and then not allowing the adoring public to see the data would likely have seemed just cruel to the people involved. However, after a week of watching relatively sane people go bananas every time this particular penguin went >1 mile in what was perceived to be the “wrong direction” I now feel the loss of that tracker may well be best for all involved. After all, these people – all of them – have other projects on the go and the resource/reward ratio for this one penguin must have been getting very out-of-control indeed.

    I’m sorry, but the bottom line for me is that I truly feel that the extreme publicity this case generated in no way hampered the decision-making processes of the scientists and veterinarians involved. To my way of thinking, it may well have caused them to take an even closer look at the possibilities for release knowing full well how many people were watching. In the end, they all did what they thought was right because that’s simply what they do for a living. Who knows how they would have been able to get this penguin even that far south had they not found a ride on the Tangaroa – and would they even have had THAT ride if not for the publicity? If so, I don’t see how they ever could have done better if they had worked in total media blackout, I truly don’t. If people are now upset about the possibilities of his current situation, I am sorry….but perhaps this, too, is a good learning experience. I can only suggest that he was far better off once the Wellington Zoo took him in than he was before they did so. And that’s all that matters to me.

    And THIS time the notifications are off….and I take my leave. Hope you all find the peace you are searching for.

  255. The most humane thing to do would have been to let the little guy die. He messed up – got super lost. Was it a genetic problem with his internal tracking? Who knows. But now he’s been rescued and given another chance, which nature wouldn’t normally have allowed. He may now be allowed to propagate and pass on this poor sense of direction quality to future penguins.

    I can only hope he perished on the way to the breeding grounds. Harsh, yes. But that’s how the world works.

  256. Hey, Kathy….sympatico….you take care, too.

  257. Hey Chenoa, just wanted to say thanks for your input too. Take care.

  258. Hi Chez, I guess in the beginning, it did bring attention to his plight. Unfortunately as time went on, decisions were made so as to bring more attention to the entities involved. The focus moved from being a wildlife rescue at that point.

  259. Chenoa,

    regarding your comment about “I am suggesting that, had there been less of a media circus surrounding this animal, better decisions might have been made on his behalf and we wouldn’t be dealing with the emotional fallout and perception of failure that is now the prevailing view.”

    My understanding is that, had it not for the media attention, they would have let him fended for himself on the NZ beach and eventually, die. That was their initial decision until all the attention from world media.

  260. To Steve…

    It’s a question of balance, Steve. Of course the public is interested and wants to be kept informed. But was it necessary to have a 24 hr web cam and publicly-viewed surgical procedures? Was it necessary for OurFarSouth to sponsor a contest ‘Where’s Happy Feet-Day 50’ and present the penguin with a ‘Farewell Card’? Was it even appropriate to name the penguin ‘Happy Feet’? In my opinion, NO.

    Rescuing the lost penguin was a good thing, as was rehabilitating him with the ultimate goal of releasing him back to his natural environment… that is, eventually and under the proper conditions.

    I am suggesting that, had there been less of a media circus surrounding this animal, better decisions might have been made on his behalf and we wouldn’t be dealing with the emotional fallout and perception of failure that is now the prevailing view.

  261. Happy Feet is a wild animal.
    He belongs to the wild.
    Great people saved and took care of him. But his place is not a pool in a zoo.His place is the Great Ocean.
    I trust that he was released in the best possible conditions.
    He gave us a lot. Look how many we are here talking about his fate.
    We must thank him and never forget.
    He should stay in our hearts and help us to be better.
    We must send him our love and wish to be back home safe.
    Go Happy Feet !!!

  262. I agree with all the comments that reflect upon experimental side of it there was never any sentimental consideration or respect for this penguin on the part of NZ .Kiwis are hardend people. Been there ,very beuatiful ,would never go again to the place where they dumped HF into the rough currents.

  263. My hear sank when I read the news – I also read extensively the comments here above. Although I also felt that HF was released soon and out of place, I cannot but accept the scientific views that say otherwise.

    BUT, one thing is disregarded: that HF had lost his way once already, when he was stranded in New Zealand. Maybe this factor should have played a role in the decisions made about his release? I think we all took notice of the same disorientation when he was released – he was expected to go south, he went north-east. My 50 cents, and I hope I’m wrong…

  264. And kudos to Teresa for post #79. Brilliant. And thanks to those who offered me kind words. Onward and upward!

  265. And with that, I am out. I don’t imagine this is going to get any less polarized in the next few days…so I will await the next blog post and return then. Perhaps there will be a surprise in store for us, perhaps not.

    Either way, thank you to everyone who invested time, money and energy into the rehabilitation of Our Antarctic Cousin. It was a fascinating summer/winter (depending on where you are).

  266. Well said, Nancy. Your post has brought a tear to my eye (one of many today). Wherever we live, we should be humbled by the exquisite beauty and strength of this glorious creature. I have read so many posts today and my mind is spinning at the endless possibilities and dwindling hope of reconnecting with Happy Feet. But I will never forget Happy Feet and the legacy he has left and am so glad that he was rescued and given love and attention. I will teach my 15-month-old son about him and about all the gorgeous creatures with whom we share this earth.
    There’s hope for Happy Feet – like someone else said, he made it to NZ, he can make it back home. That’s the only comment that has given me hope. In the meantime, there are many other species that deserve our love and care and help. Let’s not forget them. Let’s think twice about what we do to this planet that so many call home.
    And to whomever are the experts trying to track Happy Feet, please don’t give up! Keep trying so that we can continue to cheer this little guy on! In the meantime, Happy Feet has united so many together, in words, thoughts, and hope. Maybe that was his purpose. Let’s hold onto that and not give up on him.

  267. Chenoa #75: So if, say, a species of animal unseen in your country in several decades (if ever) appeared on your beach in full view of the public who then gathered there to stare at it of their own accord before any special agency got involved, your experienced groups would come along and rescue it but not allow a single person to report on the process and would ignore the public’s keen interest in the historical event? More to the point: you would have had an “experienced group” on hand with knowledge and training specific to the foreign species that appeared out of nowhere?

    That seems incredibly naive to me.

    But I will say this: if it was “dignity for the animal” that you were after, then the best thing would have been to have cordoned off that part of the beach and left him to fend for himself – which almost inevitably would have led to him dying there alone. The moment humans became involved with him medically his “dignity” was lost. Would that have been better for you? From your second paragraph, it would appear not.

    The publicity surely helped to pay for his extra-special care. I have no problem with it whatsoever. It even allowed people like you to find out with ease what the current status of his rescue and release was, for you obviously found your way to this blog.

    One final point: I noticed you directly addressed “Kathy M”. Did you happen to notice that her wishes would have been for this penguin to have been rescued and kept at a Zoo somewhere – probably Sea World in San Diego – and not released into the wild where he could possibly face predators? If your point is about the “dignity” of the animal and you spoke of the rescues and releases “up and down [your] coast” then you surely must not be in agreement with her, right? Because you can’t have it both ways.

  268. Touche Steve.
    Happy Feet has also certainly raised global awareness I am sure, of what an extraordinary species these great Emperor’s are.
    What both parents endure raising their offspring in the harshest,coldest & darkest climate in the world is nothing less than astonishing, and should humble us all in our pampered world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Hopefully his travels too have helped reinforce global environmental preservation.
    Given the unbelievable resilience of his species, I am not so easily giving up on Happy Feet!!!

  269. The microchip is under his skin. You can only read it with a scanner. (just like the microchips they put in dogs at the vets)