A young, wayward Emperor penguin won't be getting a free ride back to Antarctica.
An Emperor penguin was found on a New Zealand beach, some 1,900 miles from its home in Antarctica.
The penguin underwent three rounds of surgery after falling ill while at a New Zealand zoo.
Conservationists plan to release the penguin in the Southern Ocean once it is better so it may make the long swim home.
An Emperor penguin found in New Zealand will be released into the ocean when fully fit so it can swim the 1,900 miles home to Antarctica, wildlife experts said Wednesday.
The penguin, nicknamed "Happy Feet," was found wandering on a beach near Wellington last week and was taken to the city's zoo when it became sick after eating sand and sticks.
After three rounds of surgery, including one performed by a top New Zealand surgeon, the zoo said Wednesday that its condition had stabilized and attention had turned to what would become of the unusual visitor.
A specially-formed "penguin advisory group," comprising experts from the zoo, Department of Conservation (DOC), Wellington's Massey University and the national museum Te Papa met Wednesday to decide its fate "The group has agreed the preferred option for the Emperor penguin is to release it in the Southern Ocean, southeast of New Zealand," DOC spokesman Peter Simpson said.