Wayward penguin 'Happy Feet' missing in action

September 12, 2011 - 7:50 PM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The wayward penguin known as "Happy Feet" is missing in the Southern Ocean.

Experts tell The Associated Press that the most likely scenario is that the emperor penguin's satellite transmitter fell off. The small unit was attached to his feathers with super glue and was designed to fall off when he molted early next year.

But the unit stopped transmitting Friday, just five days after the penguin was released into the ocean. He was discovered on a New Zealand beach in June. After he was released, Happy Feet swam in a meandering route about 75 miles southeast, in a pattern that experts say is typical for a penguin chasing fish.

Other possibilities are that Happy Feet was eaten by an orca or a leopard seal; that he died of natural causes; or that the transmitter malfunctioned.