Friday, August 26, 2011
A happy occasion for Happy Feet?
So they're planning to send the big fellow home.
It's been nine weeks since an Antarctic Emperor penguin, either disoriented or rebellious, made a break for it and landed on the Kapiti Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Thinking the sand was snow, he tucked in and became sick. So, after ignoring him and calling for nature to run its course, authorities finally ferried the penguin dubbed Happy Feet off to Wellington Zoo.
Since then he's been living like an Emperor, receiving multiple surgeries and tens of thousands of dollars of King Salmon. He's been putting on weight and quite the show for visitors, but now it's time to say goodbye. Wellingtonians are planning a party - black tie, naturally.
Then, on Monday, they're going to stick Happy Feet - I still call him Nemo - on a ship and sail him down to the Sub Antarctic region. After four days they will put him into the ocean, at 53 degrees, and set him free.
My friend Jeff and I were talking the other day. Please don't tell the SPCA about our chat, because we laughed more than we should. Actually, I laughed until I couldn't breathe anymore and Jeff sounded like he was having some sort of an attack.
He told me about the post-Exxon Valdez time in Alaska. Hundreds of sea birds had been rescued from the goo of the oil sludge, taken to shelters and been cleaned and nursed back to health.
The blessed day came when one particular duck, which had become the symbol of the rebirth after the toxic apocalypse, was to be released back into the wild. It was to be the great occasion that marked the rebirth of nature after man's revolting assault.
School children and TV crews were there to solemnly mark the event. There was great ceremony. The children, gaga about the duck, sang. The bird was released into the air. The news crews filmed the moment. The duck flew ... and then, live on TV, an eagle swooped out of the sky and took the duck in its talons. Hmmm, tastes a bit soapy, but dinner nonetheless.
Ain't nature a bitch.
The school kids burst into tears, said Jeff, who was living in Juneau at the time. Still, they probably received one of the best lessons: you can't sentimentalize life.
We wondered, the cruel Jeff and I, how long Happy Feet - who should perhaps be attached to a TomTom, so bad is his sense of direction - was gobbled up by an Orca.
Well, thanks to the kind folks at Wellington Zoo, we should know. They're attaching a GPS to Happy Feet so school children can track his progress.
Nothing good is going to come of that, let me forewarn you. I wish him well, of course, but the truth is, Happy Feet is just a snack waiting to happen.
(Thanks to my colleague Adrianna for the pictures of Happy Feet at the zoo.)