The Peka Peka beachgoer who first spotted emperor penguin Happy Feet has written a children's book to keep his memory alive.Christine Wilton was walking her dog on the beach on June 20 when she saw a bright shiny light in front of the sand dunes.On closer inspection she was stunned to realise it was a one-metre-tall antarctic emperor penguin standing with the late afternoon sun shining on his chest.
Mrs Wilton excitedly contacted the Conservation Department and the following day a DOC officer, a Te Papa specialist and a Dominion Post reporter visited the beach and got their first glimpse of the penguin. He was nicknamed Happy Feet and went on to attract world-wide attention.
After eating sand and sticks for several days – to Mrs Wilton's distress – while thousands of people flocked to see him, Happy Feet became ill and was taken to Wellington Zoo where he had several operations to remove the debris from his stomach.
After recuperating, he was freed in the ocean near Campbell Island on September 4 to make his way back to Antarctica, inspiring Mrs Wilton to write a children's book to commemorate the rare visit of an emperor penguin to our shores. Only one other had been recorded visiting a New Zealand beach.
Full story at The Dominion Post