The List

Where in the world is Happy Feet the 'wayward' penguin?

The lovable, errant bird nursed back to health in New Zealand goes missing just days after being released to return to his Antarctic home

It appeared that Happy Feet was destined for a storybook ending. Over the summer, the 3-year-old emperor penguin had strayed 2,000 miles off course before he was found in New Zealand, famished and stuffed with sand that he apparently ate thinking it was snow. After being nursed back to health at a zoo, Happy Feet was on his way home. But just days after being released back into Antarctic waters on Sept. 2, a GPS tracker glued onto his back — which signaled his whereabouts every time he surfaced — has gone silent. Yes, Happy Feet is missing. What happened to the "wayward" penguin? Here, three theories:

1. He was someone's dinnerFace it, says Britain's The Sun. The most likely explanation for Happy Feet's silence is that he was "eaten by a killer whale." Or a shark. Or a leopard seal. When the Wellington Zoo was fixing up Happy Feet (at a cost of $30,000), he gave "warm fuzzies" to animal lovers who saw him as a symbol of nature's resilience. But in the wild, predators merely saw him as a meal.

2. His tracking device just fell offCheer up, says veterinary professor John Cockrem, as quoted in the New Zealand Herald. Happy Feet is probably alive and well. Leopard seals, one of the penguin's natural predators, are found farther south than the area where Happy Feet was last pinpointed. His chances of meeting a killer whale in that part of the ocean are slim, too. "It is most likely the transmitter has fallen off."

3. Solar flares are interrupting Happy Feet's transmissionsSirtrack, the company that has been keeping tabs on the penguin, might start hearing from him again, says the Sydney Morning Herald. The trackers say a satellite relaying his coordinates has been out of service due to "a spate of solar flares over the last four days." When the interference passes, there's a chance we'll hear from Happy Feet again.

Recommended

Relief ships will take 3 days to reach Tonga
HMNZS Aotearoa
help sets sail

Relief ships will take 3 days to reach Tonga

World's 10 richest men doubled their wealth during the pandemic, Oxfam reports
Elon Musk
Everybody knows

World's 10 richest men doubled their wealth during the pandemic, Oxfam reports

Full extent of damage from Tonga volcano eruption, tsunami still not clear
The view of Nomuka, Tonga, after Saturday's volcano eruption and tsunami.
natural disasters

Full extent of damage from Tonga volcano eruption, tsunami still not clear

Researchers say they may have figured out who betrayed Anne Frank to the Nazis
Pictures of Anne Frank.
history's mysteries

Researchers say they may have figured out who betrayed Anne Frank to the Nazis

Most Popular

Omicron may be headed for a sharp drop because so many people are infected
Dr. Janet Woodcock
Omicron Blues

Omicron may be headed for a sharp drop because so many people are infected

California deputy DA opposed to vaccine mandates dies of COVID-19
Kelly Ernby.
covid-19

California deputy DA opposed to vaccine mandates dies of COVID-19

Will 2022 bring another Miracle on Ice?
The Miracle on Ice.
Samuel Goldman

Will 2022 bring another Miracle on Ice?