WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s favorite penguin visitor is more lively and eating fish after undergoing endoscopic surgery yesterday to remove some of the beach sand and twigs it had swallowed, apparently mistaking it for snow.
Full recovery for the young emperor penguin — affectionately dubbed Happy Feet — may take months, and officials are unsure when or how it could return home to the Antarctic, about 2,000 miles away.
The bird was recovering well after the an endoscopy performed by one of New Zealand’s leading surgeons — for human patients.
Doctors at the Wellington Zoo guided a camera on a tube through the penguin’s swollen intestines and flushed its stomach to remove the swallowed sand and pieces of driftwood. Penguins eat snow to hydrate themselves during the harsh Antarctic winter.
To ensure the health of its newest star, the zoo brought in Wellington Hospital specialist John
The surgery went well, and doctors removed about half of the remaining sand and several twigs from the bird’s digestive system, zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said. Medical staff hope the rest of the debris will pass naturally; an X-ray is scheduled for Wednesday.