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Businesses chip in for Happy Feet's keep

Published: 12:56PM Tuesday July 05, 2011 Source: ONE News

Emperor penguin Happy Feet looks set to carry on in the manner in which he's become accustomed thanks to pledges of support from New Zealand companies.

The penguin was found about 4000 kilometres from home on Peka Peka Beach on the Kapiti Coast last month and is being kept at Wellington Zoo while he recovers from emergency surgery.

He is still undergoing procedures after swallowing large amounts of sand and the zoo has asked for public help to pay for his ongoing treatment.

Happy Feet is eating solid food again, and is currently eating 2kg of salmon a day.

His emperor sized appetite will be satisfied for a while with a donation from Marlborough based company New Zealand King Salmon, which has given 100kg of salmon smolt (juvenile fish) to the zoo.

"We usually supply the Wellington Zoo with salmon smolt when it is available and knowing that our salmon is a treat for penguins we did double our supply," marketing manager Stephen Gibson said.

Snack-food company Bluebird - which uses penguins in its marketing of chips - is also chipping in.

Five cents from every 150g bag of its Kiwi As chippies sold before November will go towards Happy Feet's upkeep.

"Penguins are close to our heart so naturally we've been following this story closely," managing director Gerard Smith said.

"We're happy we can do our part in helping Happy Feet return to the ocean and also support treatment for other penguins at Wellington Zoo."

Between now and November, Bluebird expects to sell around 400,000 packets of Kiwi As chips - based on sales figures to date - which could raise at least $20,000.

A special fund has also been created, and members of the public can donate to The Happy Feet Appeal via the zoo's website.

A group of experts decided last week that once Happy Feet returns to full health he should be released back into the southern ocean, from where it is hoped he will make his own way back to Antarctica.