A 2,000-Mile Mistake: An Emperor Penguin Ends Up In New Zealand

Originally published on June 21, 2011 6:43 pm

One poor emperor penguin took a wrong turn and ended up in New Zealand instead of Antarctica — a 2,000-mile detour. How exceptional is it for a penguin to get this lost? The last time people in New Zealand saw a penguin on their beaches was 1967.

The BBC reports:

Conservation experts say the bird is a juvenile, about 10 months old and 32in (80cm) tall. Emperor penguins are the tallest and largest of all penguin species, growing up to 4ft (122cm) high and weighing more than 75lb (34kg).

Colin Miskelly, a penguin expert at Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum, said the bird was likely born during the last Antarctic winter. It may have been searching for squid and krill when it took a wrong turn and arrived on New Zealand's North Island.

According to the AP, the woman who found the penguin, Christine Wilton, said when she saw the bird on the sandy beach, it looked "like someone just dropped it from the sky."

Wildlife experts are planning to let the penguin find its own way home. The penguin, Miskelly told the AP, is well feed and probably came on shore for a rest. But it needs to find its way south soon, if it is to survive.

The penguin, the AP reports, is making another mistake. It keeps eating sand, thinking it is snow.

Here's the AP's video report:

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