WELLINGTON, New Zealand – "Happy Feet," the emperor penguin who took a wrong turn somewhere in Antarctica and wound up on a New Zealand beach, remained critically ill Sunday after a second operation to remove sand from his stomach, the Sunday Star-Times reported.
Wellington Zoo veterinarian Lisa Argilla said the penguin, thought to be about 10 months old and dubbed "Happy Feet" in honor of the 2006 film about emperor penguins, remains critically ill, according to the paper.
Vets told the Star-Times that there is still more sand in Happy Feet's stomach and while the penguin may undergo another procedure on Monday, additional surgery may further endanger his life.
Argilla told the paper one danger is that the sand may harden into balls that could rupture the penguin's stomach.
It was thought the penguin may have mistaken the sand for snow.
On Saturday, vets pumped water into the penguin's stomach as a crowd of zoo-goers watched anxiously from behind a glass panel. He was then taken back to his chilled enclosure, where he nibbled on some shaved ice, the report said.
Happy Feet was first spotted Monday on Peka Peka Beach and brought to the zoo in a chilled box.
But even if he pulls through the sand crisis, Happy Feet's next battle was finding a way back home.
Businessman Gareth Morgan presented a solution by offering to take the penguin on a Russian icebreaker ship bound for the Ross Sea in the Antarctic. Unfortunately, the expedition was not planned until February.
"Of course until that time Happy Feet will have to be cared for here in Wellington," Morgan said.
Experts also warned that large birds can suffer trauma if moved long distances.